Democrats Introduce Bills to Protect Workers during Re-engagement

LANSING, Mich. — Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Winnie Brinks(D-Grand Rapids) and Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) today introduced a bill package to protect workers and public health as Michigan begins to re-engage the economy. Identical bills have been introduced in the House by Democratic Representatives.

“Many workers are afraid to go back to work. These are unprecedented times that have exposed serious shortcomings. If we’ve learned anything, it is that Michigan needs strong workplace protections, not just now, but for the long-term, to ensure workers can do their job safely and without being exposed to unnecessary risks,” Sen. Chang said. “We must have workers’ compensation presumption, a strong Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) with fines that lead to greater accountability, whistleblower protections, protection from retaliation in the workplace, and expanded testing for employees.”

The bills came from Democratic suggestions for re-engaging our state’s economy as part of work done on the Senate Safe Behaviors for Safe Workplaces workgroup, which fell apart over a lack of consensus on ensuring safe workplaces. Sens. Chang, Moss, and Santana were the Democratic members who participated in the workgroup.

“I represent one of our state’s largest economic hubs and, as our economy comes back online, Michigan families deserve the confidence that we are implementing every needed protection at their workplace to keep everyone healthy. We won’t have a thriving economy without a healthy workforce,” Sen. Moss said. “These bills would keep workplaces safe while also giving critical consideration to those with underlying health conditions, lack of access to safe transit, and other barriers.”

The bills include:

“While some would rather play political games with our residents’ lives, we’re laser-focused on introducing bills that will make workplaces safer for Michigan residents,” Sen. Santana said. “Safe workplaces and healthy workers are our number one priority as we work to re-engage our economy and redefine normalcy.”

As Michigan begins to re-open sectors of its economy, one of the biggest national questions that keeps coming into play is who shoulders the responsibility if workers get COVID-19. Democrats across the country are fighting for workplace protections that include compensation benefits when workers become sick. In addition, we know that many workers have already faced unsafe working conditions; MIOSHA has received approximately 2,000 complaints since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our economy cannot thrive until our each and every worker is confident they are protected from COVID-19,” Sen. McCann said. “By ensuring all workers are protected with workers’ compensation, we can give them the safety and confidence they need so they won’t lose their job, their car, or their house if they get sick.”

Michigan has been one of the hardest hit states in the country, with Southeast Michigan taking the brunt of the damage. As of May 19, the state continues to conduct thousands of COVID-19 tests daily and had 52,350 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 5,017 total COVID-19 deaths

“While testing capabilities in Michigan have greatly expanded, we can and must do more to ensure our workplaces have the best interest of their employees in mind as they head back to work, including providing the information workers need if they are concerned they might be sick,” Sen. Brinks said. “Without expanded testing, we are doing our employers, employees and patrons of those businesses a huge disservice.”

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