SEIU Media Team,

Issued July 02, 2024

SEIU’s Verrett: The Biden Administration's proposed rules to protect workers from heat, extreme weather will save lives

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President April Verrett issued the following statement following the Biden Administration’s announcement of the first-ever proposed federal safety standard aimed at addressing workers’ exposure to extreme heat. The proposed rules respond to workers’ demands by requiring employers to create heat injury and illness prevention plans to ensure drinking water access, cooling areas, sufficient break time, indoor temperature controls, proper training for those working in extreme heat conditions, cooling PPE, hazard alert systems, and more.

WASHINGTON, DC – “Today, the nearly two million members of the Service Employees International Union applaud the administration's efforts to protect workers from increasingly dangerous levels of heat on the job. SEIU members across the country feel first-hand the effect of our warming planet, from the janitors and airplane cabin cleaners who often must work when the A/C is off, to the bus drivers, security guards, and other employees working outdoors or in hot vehicles without access to water or cooling breaks. Climate change is real and is already upon us, posing significant threats to people’s health and disproportionately affecting impoverished neighborhoods and communities of color.

Destiny Mervin, an Atlanta restaurant worker with the Union of Southern of Service Workers, became an advocate for heat protections after her coworkers fainted on the job. Linda Ressler is a cabin cleaner at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and got involved after being told by managers that she and her coworkers were not allowed to bring water on planes, despite working in temperatures upwards of 100 degrees.

President Biden’s new proposed rules on heat safety, along with his ongoing efforts to curb air pollution, show us that he’s listening to workers like Destiny and Linda and is ready to hold corporations accountable. We can’t afford to elect leaders who ignore climate change and aren’t concerned about our safety— especially someone who dismisses these jobs as ‘Black’ and ‘Hispanic’ jobs. Multiracial working class voters will cast the deciding votes in this election, and this heat will not fade from our memory come November.”