VICTORY! Printers Added to CISA Essential Workforce Guidance

PIA Special Annoucement

Here are links to the Member Alert, News Release and Video on the CISA victory should any of you wish to share with your members or on social media.  #printisessential is the tag line to use.  Let’s celebrate our great industry!

VICTORY! Printers Added to CISA Essential Workforce Guidance

Following a major advocacy effort by PIA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) released guidance on April 17 officially listing printers and packagers as part of the nation’s essential critical infrastructure workforce. Specific mention of printed material, packaging material, specialty signage, and references to print media in relation to communications, election services, and postal/shipping services are also contained in the guidance. Earlier versions of the CISA guidance implied printing and packaging companies were essential as part of critical manufacturing supply chains, but absent an explicit definition, PIA member companies have faced confusion or work stoppages as individual states and municipalities issued a patchwork of stay-at-home orders. In several cases, print was excluded by certain states, and the industry was forced to petition governors to amend the original order. This process has created havoc for the industry, its employees, and customers.

Importance of the New CISA Guidance 

Over 40 states and numerous localities have enacted stay-at-home orders, many of which direct closures of non-essential businesses. While CISA’s guidance is not law nor a binding government regulation, it serves as an important benchmark by providing a standard definition of essential workers and encourages adoption by governors, county officials, and mayors. CISA estimates that approximately 75 percent of states have adopted its guidelines to create a more harmonious approach to determining which types of businesses remain open. 

This clarification will help keep print production providing support to multiple critical infrastructure sectors. Many states are extending stay-at-home orders through May or June. Localities have enacted stay-at-home orders in conflict with their own states. Additionally, President Trump has called for a gradually phased-in, state-by-state reopening. All of these moving parts makes having clear CISA guidance on essential workers even more vital. This guidance is also helpful as it sets a precedent for any future declarations by CISA in times of national emergency.

It is important to note that the CISA guidance does not supersede stay-at-home or essential business definitions issued by states and localities. If your state or locality has issued such an order that excludes printing, the updated CISA guidance will serve to support the industry’s plea to revise the order to match the federal guidance. If you have questions about where printing stands under your state or locality, please contact your local PIA affiliate for information.

Employer Tools for Essential Work Designations

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, PIA has encouraged its member companies to strike a balance between remaining operational while also protecting public health and ensuring workplace safety. Even if your state or locality has issued an official order including printing as essential, your employees may have concerns or questions. Additionally, public safety officers may seek to enforce state and local orders by questioning employees traveling to and from work or to and from child care locations. While state and local orders may differ and PIA does not provide legal advice to its members, we have created sample templates of letters you may choose to use to address the concerns above. These templates may be customized for your use and printed on your company’s letterhead. For other questions related to workplace safety or employee sick leave laws during this time of pandemic, please see PIA’s Frequently Asked Questions for Employers.


Let’s amplify CISA’s guidance! PIA has heard from hundreds of companies over the past six weeks sharing stories about the essential printed products they are manufacturing during this time of pandemic. Let’s continue to share that message publicly. Post pictures of essential print your company is producing to social media TODAY. Be sure to use the hashtags #printisessential and #printpowersamerica to spread the word. America relies on print in times of national emergency, and print will proudly support our nation’s infrastructure and economy as we look hopefully toward recovery. 

Stay safe, stay vigilant, and stay positive. 

Sadie Hagen
Author: Sadie Hagen