Senate Dems introduce bill to keep pilots and bus and train operators safe

Senate Dems introduce bill to keep pilots and bus and train operators safe
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at addressing workplace safety for essential transportation workers, including pilots, flight attendants, bus operators and Amtrak and other train operators during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Essential Transportation Employee Safety Act would require the secretary of Transportation to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide priority testing for these workers and implement personal protective equipment and sanitization requirements for companies.

It was introduced by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellUS lawmakers weigh new COVID-19 stimulus funding for businesses Senate whistleblower report alleges oversight problems with aerospace industry safety On The Money — Senate risks Trump's ire with debt ceiling deal MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee Overnight Energy & Environment — Manchin raises hopes on climate spending Warren, Democrats ask federal government to resume tracking breakthrough cases MORE (D-Mass.). 

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The legislation has been endorsed endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Transportation Trades Department–AFL-CIO, which represents several transportation labor unions such as the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants–CWA and the Transport Workers Union of America.

“Transportation workers are critical for getting people to and from work, getting life-saving goods out to hospitals and first responders, moving food for our kitchen tables, and essential goods to stock our stores,” Cantwell said in a press release.

She added that the bill “will require passenger and freight transportation companies to abide by the CDC recommendations including mandatory cleaning, disinfecting areas, and personal protective equipment to keep our frontline workers safe.”

Blumenthal also stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of frontline transportation workers.

“As these workers continue to serve our public on the roads, railways, and in the skies, they must have priority access to coronavirus tests, readily available personal protective equipment, and a safe workplace to protect their health,” he said in a statement.

—Updated at 8:49 p.m.