NTEU: CBP needlessly exposing personnel to COVID-19 risk
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Apr 08, 2020
Restrictions on the amount of time Customs and Border Protection employees can spend on the frontlines, exposed to travelers and fellow employees -- imposed last month to secure the health of employees and stop the spread of COVID-19 -- have been lifted suddenly.
“With no justification and no notice, prudent steps to protect the health and safety of Customs and Border Protection personnel have been withdrawn at land border ports,” the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 25,000 of the agency’s field employees, said in a statement.
“CBP is making a grave mistake by rescinding these adjusted schedules,” said Tony Reardon, the union’s president. “CBP has not given us a valid reason for sending more frontline federal employees into harm’s way than is necessary, so we are asking CBP leadership to reverse this short-sighted decision and restore the ports’ ability to protect the health and safety of CBP employees.”
Agency management said that the restrictions were reversed to block an influx of “illegal border crossers with COVID-19” between ports of entry, according to the union’s release. Union leaders said they have been presented with no evidence supporting this claim.
NTEU reiterated its support for reimposing the restrictions, which had “upheld the twin goals of delivering the mission while promoting the health of the Officers,” the union said in a letter of protest to agency management. “[Effective] mission delivery isn’t possible without a healthy workforce.”
As of April 5, according to the agency’s tally, CBP had 160 confirmed cases of coronavirus.