America's Five Economic Essentials
America’s workers—across the nation and in every sector—have been devastated by coronavirus. Our nation is experiencing depression-level unemployment as millions have lost their jobs and health insurance and are struggling to meet basic food and shelter needs. Far too many are working without adequate safety protections, and for many on the frontlines and workers of color, simply going to work has already proven to be a death sentence.
State and local budgets have been stretched thin. Our schools are underfunded and the U.S. Postal Service is being unnecessarily politicized and bled dry. And the retirement crisis—which predated the outbreak of COVID-19—is getting worse by the day.
This is a moment that demands a real plan. That’s why America’s labor movement developed America’s Five Economic Essentials, a comprehensive agenda that addresses working people’s needs for safe jobs, economic security and freedom from systemic racism.
America's Five Economic Essentials to Keep Our Families Safe
Keep Front-Line Workers Safe and Secure
America’s workers need us to reopen safely, not prematurely. All essential workers need safety protections on the job, including personal protective equipment, training, testing, anti-retaliation protections, paid sick leave and hazard pay. These workers are everyday heroes who have kept our country moving, fed, cared for and safe through this crisis, and they need to be treated, protected and paid accordingly.
Keep Workers Employed and Protect Earned Pension Checks
Unemployment in America is at catastrophic levels and we must act to ensure workers are paid through the duration of this crisis. The HEROES Act will extend COVID-19 unemployment benefits and create a framework to keep workers on payroll and protect the pensions of 30 million of America’s workers and retirees in the public and private sector.
Keep State and Local Governments, Public Schools and the U.S. Postal Service Solvent and Working
The COVID-19 economic crisis is threatening the finances of state and local governments, our public schools, the U.S. Postal Service, and other critical public services.. A substantial investment in unrestricted aid to state and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities, and the U.S. Postal Service, as well as greater federal assistance for Medicaid, will help prevent a further gutting of public services that would make these crises even worse. The HEROES Act would provide more than $1 trillion to state and local governments and more than $25 billion to the U. S. Postal Service.
Keep America Healthy—Protect and Expand Health Insurance for All Workers
Millions of people are losing their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic, especially Black Americans, who are more likely to lose their health insurance coverage. Now is not the time to throw millions of laid-off workers and the families of workers who have died off their health insurance. We need to expand affordable health care, not eliminate it, so that all workers have access to medical testing and treatment. If the HEROES Act was law, there would be 100% federal support for COBRA extensions preserving laid-off workers’ health insurance, as well as free COVID-19 treatment.
Keep America Competitive—Hire People to Build Infrastructure
Public investment in America’s infrastructure—our schools and hospitals, transportation, energy and telecommunications systems—is key to the immediate job creation we need and to our long-term competitiveness. The need for investment in modernized schools, additional hospitals and public assets like universal broadband is particularly important for communities of color enduring digital and health deserts.