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Connolly Reintroduces the Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act

Today, Congressman Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, reintroduced the Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act, legislation to better protect federal employees required to return to the workplace from the coronavirus. 

“On May 26, 2020, Chai Suthammanont, my constituent and a kitchen staff worker at a childcare facility on Marine Corps Base Quantico, died from coronavirus-related complications.  Confusion and uncertainty emerged as two of the largest contributing factors to Chai’s death.  Uncertainty on best practices and agency policies — and a general lack of communication with federal workforce staff — led to tragedy,” Chairman Connolly said.

“Unfortunately, Chai is not the only dedicated civil servant we have lost due to COVID-19.  Various federal departments and agencies have reported deaths among their staff, many of whom, like Chai, had continued to execute their agency’s mission bravely in the face of the pandemic,” Connolly added. “In conjunction with the Biden Administration’s efforts to advocate for safe workspaces for federal employees, we have an opportunity to ensure that these employees have the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding their agencies’ safety plans for federal worksites. Our Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act will ensure federal employees are informed and better protected if they have to return to their agencies.”

The Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act would protect federal employees by requiring federal agencies to publish a safety plan publicly on their agency website and communicate this plan directly to employees and to track that all employees have received it. In addition, the safety plan must address the agency’s continuity of operations and discuss implementation of widely recommended health and safety initiatives, including procedures for administering the vaccine to agency employees.  The plan would also discuss protections for employees required to travel or work in locations outside of federal office buildings, requirements for visitors to federal facilities, and contingencies for high-risk employees or employees living in a household at high-risk of contracting COVID-19.  Finally, the bill would ensure oversight of agencies’ efforts by requiring a report on the implementation of these plans from the applicable inspector general.

Connolly’s legislation  passed the House on September 30, 2020. It is cosponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jackie Speier, John Sarbanes, Jamie Raskin, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Stephen Lynch and Don Beyer. It is endorsed by American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), Federal Aviation Administration Managers Association (FAAMA), United Power Trades Organization, Public Citizen, Professional Managers Association, Senior Executives Association, National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Antilles Consolidated Education Association, National Weather Service Employees Organization, and the Patent Office Professional Association.

WUSA9 covered Chai’s story  here.

Text of the legislation is available  here.

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