The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically disrupted everyday life for working Oregonians. Ensuring workers on the front lines are safe on the job - well equipped with personal protective equipment, soap, and other basic needs - has been an urgent priority for Oregon’s Labor Movement. Meanwhile, we are continuing to collaborate with partner organizations to help secure funds for those who have been laid off, many lacking sufficient financial support from employers and the federal government alike.
Following the passage of the CARES Act, America’s Unions have identified five economic essentials for working families; any relief package must keep Americans safe, healthy, and employed, and must invest in the public schools, public services, and infrastructure that will anchor our recovery efforts.
These are America’s Five Economic Essentials:
Keep America healthy—protect and expand health insurance for all.
Keep front-line workers safe and secure.
Keep workers employed and protect pensions.
Keep state and local governments, our public schools, and the U.S. Postal Service solvent and working.
Keep America competitive—hire people to build infrastructure.
Yesterday, in order to address the economic essentials of Americans nationwide, House Democrats unveiled the ‘‘Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act’, a $3 Trillion package to address the wide-ranging needs of America’s workforce. The HEROES Act, which would serve as the largest stimulus package in history, includes an emergency workplace infectious disease standard, hazard pay for health care workers, expansion of Medicaid and Medicare programs, as well as aid to state and local governments, public schools, and the U.S. Postal Service. Farmers, aviation sector employees, and rail transit workers will also receive considerable relief. Furthermore, the bill would also extend work visas for immigrants, preventing them from losing legal immigration status and access to further stimulus assistance. TELL CONGRESS: SUPPORT H.R. 6800, THE HEROES ACT To be clear, the passage of an additional support package could not be more urgent. As states begin to ease social distancing restrictions on businesses nationwide, we must act now to ensure the safety of workers on the front lines. Left unprotected, these essential workers will undoubtedly face a heightened risk of exposure to the virus, putting their paycheck -and ultimately their lives- in jeopardy. We cannot sacrifice the health of workers for the profit of corporations.
For the millions of people who are now unemployed and are without healthcare, it is imperative that our elected leaders ensure a plausible pathway to receiving coverage. Lack of health insurance should never be a barrier to treatment, especially when in some cases, emergency medical treatment is the only way to save an infected patient. In the midst of a global pandemic, expanding access to healthcare is simply the only humane option.
While passage in the Democratic-led House is likely, the HEROEs Act faces a difficult path in the Republican-controlled Senate. Unfortunately, working Americans do not have the luxury of time on their side. The longer the bill sits on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk, the more dire realities become for millions of families in need. In the wake of this pandemic, a full recovery will be within reach if we continue to fight for increased safety measures and resources for everyday people. Through the passage of the HEROES Act, we will begin to address America’s Five Economic Essentials and see a recovery process that truly puts workers first.