AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the following statement in response to a deal on the coronavirus response bill:
Make no mistake, working people and our allies took last week’s corporate grab bag and made substantial improvements. We are thankful to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for their intense effort on behalf of working people.
This deal includes a number of things America’s workers must have immediately, including an expansion of the unemployment insurance program; increased funding for schools, hospitals, and state and local governments; relief for the airline industry that includes worker rights protections; and critical funding to keep transit workers on the job. Given the urgency of the situation, both chambers of Congress should pass this bill and President Trump should sign it today.
However, the package does not address critical aspects of the coronavirus crisis—issues that threaten the lives of working people and the integrity of our democracy. The package has no workplace standard and no increased funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and more needs to be done to make sure we get protective equipment to the people who need it most.
Because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s obstruction, the deal is silent on the multiemployer pension crisis. It denies testing and treatment to undocumented workers, leaving us all more vulnerable. It already appears that it does not do enough to help employers keep workers on their payrolls. It does nothing to guarantee 14 paid sick days for all workers. And it includes too little oversight of the federal assistance corporations receive, opening the door for working people to be left in the lurch.
Finally, there is no support for the U.S. Postal Service, which links us together in this moment of social distancing, and only token funding for vote-by-mail.
Though this bill is urgently needed, as the pandemic intensifies it will not be enough to keep our economy functioning and our people safe. There must be another effort.
So our message to Congress is this: Pass this bill. Then do much more.
Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018