PITTSBURGH, March 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act a good first step in the effort to contain the disease and support struggling workers, but said that more action is needed to protect the health and economic well-being of Americans.
"Passage of this bill was important and necessary, but it doesn't come close to solving all of the problems that workers and families will be facing in the coming weeks and months," said USW International President Thomas M. Conway. "There are too many loopholes that companies could exploit, and too many Americans who could end up left behind to fend for themselves.
"Congress must continue to work to provide support and relief for everyone affected by this pandemic, no matter where they live or where they work."
For example, the measure provides for paid sick and family leave for workers, but that stipulation only applies to workplaces with more than 50 but less than 500 employees.
"The paid sick leave requirement has the potential to leave millions of workers – including some in the areas of health care and emergency response – with no option for paid sick or family leave. This is simply unacceptable," Conway said.
"This is just the beginning of what must be an ongoing effort to support working people. Congress is already debating further measures to address this crisis, and as they do they must be sure to cover every worker in every workplace," Conway said. "Any upcoming pieces of legislation must close the loopholes that leave essential workers without paid time off, and must ensure that any relief provided to corporations be used for the benefit of workers, and not exploited by wealthy executives for their own personal gain.
"This is an international crisis unlike any we've seen in generations, and it's going to require a response coordinated across party lines, across borders, across the traditional labor-management divide," Conway said. "We must all stand together and put the needs of workers and families first, and we will emerge from this stronger than ever."
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.