> Sales Reps Supporting the Supply Chain for Critical Infrastructure Parts and Services Serve an ‘Essential’ Role Consistent with CISA Guidance
April 9, 2020
Source: Electronics Representatives Association
By Gerald M. Newman and Adam J. Glazer ERA General Counsel
The Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is fully supportive of public and private efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Toward that end, ERA recognizes and appreciates the advisory memo issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the Department of Homeland Security on March 28, 2020, identifying essential critical infrastructure workers.
That memo by CISA included a non-exclusive advisory list identifying “workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.” The list is advisory only, and “is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.”
Among the workers identified by CISA are those “who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The industries they support represent, but are not limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.”
The functions of a significant preponderance of ERA rep members are believed to fall within the supply chain for OEMs who manufacture and sell products into, or provide services within, among others, the medical, healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, transportation and logistics, energy, and public works industries. The vital role played by these sales reps in developing and servicing the sales channel, including addressing customer needs and facilitating the deployment of products and services on behalf of the manufacturers they represent, proves entirely consistent with the CISA reference to workers who engage in “operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.”
The manufacturing of the vital products necessary in these industries is alone insufficient to enable them to service the country’s “critical infrastructure” needs. This seems to be why CISA specifically characterizes as essential those workers “who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure.” Sales reps have long occupied this position, and the key link they serve in the supply chain is as valuable today as ever before.
As indicated, the CISA guidelines are advisory only, and are intended to assist state and local authorities in developing their own policies on “essential” workplace services. Many state and local authorities and agencies have issued or are in the process of issuing their own guidelines or advice, and ERA members should remain cognizant of all applicable regulations or standards addressed to their eligibility to serve as “essential” workers.