RALEIGH (December 8, 2020) – Civil rights and workers’ rights groups will hold a virtual tele-presser to condemn the North Carolina Department of Labor’s (NCDOL) refusal on November 9 to adopt a new rule that would protect and preserve the health and safety of tens of thousands of the state’s workers during a deadly pandemic on Thursday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m.

The new safety rule was submitted to the NCDOL via petition in early October. Advocates stress the need for these sensible safeguards and the lack of protections for workers in North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers on the call will include Illana Dubester, Executive Director of the Hispanic Liaison; Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the NAACP of NC; MaryBe McMillan, President of the NC State AFL-CIO; Dr. David Wohl, Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill; and more.

The petition urged NCDOL failed to adopt or amend health and safety standards to protect North Carolinians working in unsafe conditions. Essential workers in healthcare and food production are facing new and serious health and safety hazards as a result of the COVID pandemic, and the petition noted that workers in these industries are disproportionally non-white. Not only do these workers face a higher risk of exposure, but because they are also often underpaid and lack health benefits and adequate access to health care, they face an increased risk of serious complications should they become infected with COVID-19.

NCDOL’s purpose is to issue and enforce workplace protections, hold employers accountable, and investigate complaints of unsafe workplace practices. The rejected rule would have ensured workers’ rights are protected amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petitioners include Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, The Hispanic Liaison, NC Raise Up/ Fight For $15 and a Union, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and Western North Carolina Workers’   Center, and are represented by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the North Carolina Justice Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The press conference will be held on Zoom. Pre-registration is required.