Scott, Mrvan Introduce Bill to Secure Support for Longshore and Harbor Workers Who Contract COVID-19

May 12, 2021
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and Labor, and Rep. Frank J. Mrvan (IN-01) introduced legislation to secure critical support for maritime workers who contract COVID-19.  The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act of 2021 (H.R. 3114) makes longshore and harbor workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 eligible for workers’ compensation by establishing a “conclusive presumption” that they contracted the virus at work. 

Hundreds of longshore and harbor workers across the country have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic. The presumption in this legislation would apply retroactively to January 27, 2020, when the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared by the Department of Health Human Services. 

Maritime workers have performed essential work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, loading and unloading ships, building and repairing ships, and toiling to keep our ports operating.  Longshore workers often work in teams and are in close contact. 

“Workers who contracted COVID-19 lost out on wages and ran up medical bills that they will have to cover out of their own pockets, unless they can overcome a difficult, burdensome process for proving they were infected at their workplace,” said Chairman Scott. “The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act provides these workers or their survivors with the relief they deserve without having to face unnecessary hurdles.”

“I am extremely proud to introduce my first piece of legislation, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act, in order to protect the health, safety, and livelihoods of our nation’s maritime workers.  The current health-pandemic has created serious challenges for these essential workers, including unpaid, mandatory quarantine requirements resulting from COVID-19 contraction or exposure.  In my Congressional district, the Burns Waterway Harbor generates more than $15 billion in business revenue and supports over 80,000 workers - including union jobs with the International Longshoremen’s Association.  I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Scott and all my colleagues to support this invaluable workforce and move this legislation forward as soon as possible,” said Rep. Mrvan. 

“The more than 10,000 members of USW Local 8888 making our country’s aircraft carriers and other ships vital to our national security have been essential workers during the pandemic. Now we must repay their dedication and sacrifice by ensuring these and other USW members in the maritime and longshore industry have access to workers’ compensation if they contract Covid-19. The union appreciates Education and Labor Committee chairman Scott and Rep. Mrvan for spearheading this legislation,” said United Steelworkers (USW) President Tom Conway.

"Longshoremen and employees in the shipbuilding industry have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic at great personal risk. For the many who have been infected by COVID-19 on the job, receiving worker's compensation benefits has been difficult, if not impossible," said Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. "This legislation would ease the burden for longshore and harbor workers and their families who have lost out on wages during the pandemic. We strongly commend Chairman Scott and Representative Mrvan for their support of this essential workforce".  

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, countless longshore workers have been subject to mandatory quarantine requirements, in many cases, several times, due to COVID-19 exposure and many others contracted COVID-19 and therefore were unable to work. This has had a tremendous impact on the livelihoods of longshore workers who have been toiling endlessly during the pandemic to ensure that our nation’s economy continues to thrive. Although the International Longshoremen’s Association has negotiated with its members’ employers to compensate some eligible affected longshore workers, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act would benefit a broader spectrum of longshore workers and reward them with the compensation they deserve for their heroic efforts during this pandemic," said the International Longshoremen’s Association.

Given the near impossibility of proving the nexus between the source of the novel coronavirus infection and the workplace, nearly 20 states have amended their workers’ compensation laws or policies to provide that COVID-19 infections are presumed to be work-related and covered under a state’s workers’ compensation program.  Following the lead of many states, the House of Representatives passed COVID-19 workers’ compensation legislation for federal and postal workers as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, and it is necessary for Congress to do the same for maritime workers covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. 

To read the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act of 2021 bill text, click here.

To read the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act of 2021 section by section, click here

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