Throughout the last 9 months, but particularly since the CARES Act expired at the end of July, American workers have needlessly suffered due to inaction by the federal government. As a direct result of the 6 months of inaction, 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty, the highest level in a year since the government started recording data on poverty 60 years ago. As of today, over 315,000 are dead and millions more are sick from the COVID-19 virus.
While we welcome a desperately needed agreement for emergency relief from the federal government, especially expanded unemployment benefits and direct cash payments to American workers, it is far short of what is needed for a true recovery and relief. The IUPAT is composed of thousands of trade show workers who have been out of work since the pandemic began and they are in desperate need of help. It is disappointing that the relief for working Americans becomes smaller and smaller while the “three-martini lunch” tax deductions find their way back into law.
We are also disappointed that the bill takes steps backwards around labor standards. It specifically omits Davis-Bacon prevailing wages from renewable energy funding. This will materially impact the wages and working conditions of thousands of construction workers in a time where workers are already feeling the consequences of the pandemic and the inaction of Congress.
Ultimately, after 9 months of delay and political gamesmanship, it is regrettable that all of the compromises met were on the back of workers. It’s of the utmost importance the incoming Congress comes together to pass a much more expansive and comprehensive stimulus to match the many crises facing our nation and our union will be demanding nothing less.
These last few weeks have shown the power of organized labor, particularly in defeating liability shields for corporations and the inclusion of direct cash payments and industry-specific relief. Our strength as a union and the broader labor movement is to make those who want us to fend for crumbs to say yes when they want to say no. We intend to make clear to the incoming Congress that US workers want more relief, a significant stimulus, and higher labor standards.