Reps like Laurie Pohutsky are introducing legislation to protect the health, rights, and paychecks of Michigan workers returning to their jobs.
LANSING, MI — As the curve flattens and Michigan reopens, locals are finding a new normal. One unmapped challenge for many Michiganders is what it looks like returning to work after the pandemic.
Some of Michigan’s legislators have made protecting the state’s workers a priority with a stream of new proposals. This is especially important as Michiganders largely fear a second wave coming.
State Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), for instance, created the Downtown Business Coalition. The new coalition of 17 legislators conducted a virtual listening tour with small businesses around the state, hearing concerns Michiganders have about reengagement. Major business concerns included the limitations of President Trump’s Paycheck Protection Program.
The House has also tackled a number of bills aimed at providing health protections for returning workers. Four different House Bills (5797, 5798, 5799 and 5800) require protections from employees like providing information on coronavirus testing sites, preventing employers from retaliating against quarantined employees, and addressing any shortcomings from management when it comes to complying with coronavirus workplace safety.
Among the legislators spearheading these protections for Michiganders is State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia).
“We know that moving the economy forward while COVID-19 is still very much an issue presents unique challenges, so it’s paramount that we re-engage in a way that provides as many protections for workers as possible,” Pohutsky told The ‘Gander.
Pohutsky sponsored HB-5797 which would extend workers’ compensation protections to those who contract the coronavirus on the job.
“Reengagement so far has been well-received,” Pohutsky said of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plans. “Some constituents have reached out, however, with concerns about their ability to perform their jobs safely in this new reality. Businesses are making every effort to adapt, but obviously there is still some anxiety for people.”
Other financial protections come from state Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint), whose legislation would allow the Unemployment Insurance Agency to extend loans to are awaiting determination on their eligibility for support.
“Many Michiganders are suffering through no fault of their own because of the backlog of cases in our underfunded unemployment system,” Cherry said in a statement.
And state Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) introduced a resolution encouraging any business interacting with the public to adopt a “no gloves, no mask, no service” policy during the duration of the pandemic. This echoes existing executive orders from Gov. Whitmer to similar effect.
“I implore retail and other establishments to help keep us safe by insisting on the mask-wearing practice,” Love said. “Even as we enjoy the outdoors and good weather, it is vital that we continue to do so safely and take precautions.”