PITTSBURGH, April 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today called the bipartisan passage of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act another important step in ensuring the safety and health of both workers and the economy, and expressed support for the aid to small businesses and the health care industry.
The legislation, signed by the president today, added $75 billion in extra funding for hospitals to use for a variety of purposes, including vital personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and other supplies. Many in labor, including the USW, believed the initial allocation in the CARES Act, passed on March 27, did not go far enough for health care workers.
"This package provides a significant amount of funding to those who are risking their lives on the front lines of this pandemic, and we applaud that," said International President Thomas M. Conway. "It is essential that they have every resource they need, and that national and state legislatures keep working to ensure this support continues."
Conway also said there is much work to be done.
"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration must immediately pass an enforceable emergency standard to better protect front-line workers, and future legislation must provide a mechanism for health care and other front-line workers to have guaranteed access to COVID-related sick leave," Conway said.
Future relief should include significant investment in infrastructure, Conway said, as well as address the multiemployer pension crisis, so that vulnerable retirees are not further harmed in the economic wake of the virus.
The union also said it is disappointed in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for suggesting that states could pursue bankruptcy as an alternative to federal stimulus.
"Suggesting states be left to fend for themselves is disgraceful," said Conway. "Working families are struggling through no fault of their own. McConnell playing politics with aid money they desperately need is simply unacceptable."
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.
Contact: Chelsey Engel, 412-562-1178, [email protected]
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)