Washington, D.C. – The entire Maine and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations sent a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite, inquiring what steps and protocols are in place to safeguard the health and safety of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) workforce as it returns to full strength.
“We recognize the important work of our shipyard employees in maintaining the readiness of our fast attack submarine fleet, and we appreciate the communication we have received from shipyard leadership,” the delegations wrote. “However, we urge the Navy to continue to strike the right balance between maximizing the productivity of the workforce while minimizing the risk associated with the COVID-19 health emergency, especially for those at highest risk.”
“As you may know, PNSY developed a four-phased approach in order to return the workforce to full strength. The first phase began on June 1, 2020, and was set to align with guidance put forth by the State of Maine,” the lawmakers continued. “We understand that employees with higher risk of severe illness began returning to the shipyard on June 29th. As the transition to full strength begins, we would appreciate a response to the following questions so that we may better understand the processes in place to ensure the safety of the workforce.”
The Maine and New Hampshire delegations included a series of questions that address metrics being used by the Navy, social distance practices that will remain in effect, updates on positive COVID cases and other areas of concern to ensure the well-being of all workers.
In April, along with members of the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations, U.S. Senator Susan Collins wrote to the Department of Defense to express her concern with an updated policy that reduces the paid administrative leave options available to public shipyard workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The updated guidance created impediments to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers staying home if necessary to protect public health or the health of a vulnerable family member during this public health crisis.
The letter can be read in full here.