Advocates Urge Texas to Fix Rules that Threaten Working Texans

On April 29, a group of advocates including CPPP wrote to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to encourage the agency to fix rules so Texans don’t have to choose between their safety and their paychecks. The letter — signed by CPPP, the Texas AFL-CIO, United Ways of Texas, and others — asks for clarification of TWC rules that currently force workers back into potentially unsafe working conditions as businesses reopen from COVID-19 closures.

Under current rules, if someone receiving Unemployment Insurance is offered their job back or other similar work but doesn’t accept it because they don’t feel safe at that workplace, they can lose their benefits.

TWC rules state you accept any job offer of “suitable work” that comes your way. However, our letter to TWC requests a clearer definition of “suitable work” as it relates to risk of COVID-19 infection in the workplace.

“At a time when some businesses may reopen without proper health and safety protections for workers — especially people of color, immigrants and women — it is critical that workers be able to resist being forced into a workplace that poses a risk to their health, ” said Jonathan Lewis.

“Workers should not have to choose between their livelihoods and their physical safety in a workplace,” said Rick Levy, President of the Texas AFL-CIO. “Unfortunately, current law offers no real choice at all: Get to work without regard to safety or lose your job. Without enforceable safety standards and adjustments to Unemployment Insurance rules, the choice will not just be one-sided, but will have consequences for all Texans.’’

A copy of the full letter is available here.

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