On March 27, a COVID-19 stimulus package was signed into law. The new law includes some important protections and support for working people during this crisis. While this legislation is only a first step, there are a number of provisions that will help SEIU members and other working people immediately, including:
The legislation includes a significant increase in unemployment insurance benefits that will amount to full paycheck replacement for most working people who lost their jobs during the crisis or cannot work due to the pandemic. The legislation provides $260 billion to expand eligibility to include workers not typically covered--such as gig workers, increase payments by an additional $600 per week for all recipients, and extend payments for an additional 13 weeks. Eligibility requirements vary state by state. Find out how to apply for unemployment benefits in your state:
It provides for direct cash payments of $1200 for individuals who make less than $75,000 and $2400 for married couples who make less than $150,000 combined. Families will also receive an additional $500 cash payment per child. You can use this helpful calculator for direct cash payments from the Washington Post.
It increases food assistance by providing an additional $24.3 billion for child nutrition programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The legislation protects housing with $12 billion in housing assistance and protects tenants from eviction.
- Significant protections for airport workers. The legislation includes $3 billion in financial assistance to airline contractors which will preserve the jobs of 235,000 contracted airport workers, $25 billion to airlines and $4 billion to cargo carriers for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries, and benefits. This agreement contains layoff protection -- an air carrier or contractor must certify that they shall refrain from conducting involuntary furloughs or reducing pay rates and benefits until September 30, 2020.
- $150 billion for hospitals and other healthcare providers. The funds will address immediate capacity needs including personal protective equipment, a significant investment in pharmaceutical research and development for vaccines and therapies, and expanded access to treatment through changes in the law regarding providers and insurers and Medicare and Medicaid.
- $30.75 billion in emergency support to local school systems and higher education. Additional funding will allow institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. These funds can be used in a variety of ways, including funding distance learning while schools are closed, as well as cleaning and sanitizing school buildings.
- Assistance for child care providers and frontline workers who need child care. Child Care workers will benefit from the $3.5 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program including provisions allowing for continued payments to providers and their staff during closures or enrollment declines. States are also authorized to use funds to provide child care assistance to healthcare workers and other essential workers. The legislation also provides $750 million for Head Start.
- $25 billion in aid to our nation’s transit systems. Funds will help protect public health and safety while ensuring access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services.
Accountability to Ensure Corporations Receiving Assistance Invest in Working People
- Restrictions on any increases to executive compensation, dividend payments to stockholders and on harmful financial practices used by executives to boost the price of their companies’ stock .
- Protect collective bargaining agreements.
- Prohibition on businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments getting loans or investments from Treasury programs.
- Requires mid-size businesses with 500 to 10,000 employees that apply for certain direct loans are required, “to make a good-faith certification that the recipient will remain neutral in any union organizing effort for the term of the loan.