(WASHINGTON) – A $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package included in the federal government’s fiscal 2021 funding bill and approved by Congress last night offers essential relief not only to workers, but to specific industries decimated by the pandemic that employ tens of thousands of Teamsters.
The union applauds the decision to include stimulus checks to working families, extended unemployment benefits, small business relief, coronavirus vaccine dollars and a rent eviction moratorium in the legislation. But Teamsters are also pleased that the measure makes monies available to the airline industry, railroads and transit systems.
Airline workers will be helped by $15 billion being made available specifically for payroll purposes, while industry contractors will benefit from $1 billion doled out for the same purpose. Additionally, Amtrak will receive $1 billion and school bus companies will receive a portion of the $2 billion made available to them, private motor coach and ferry operators.
“Times are tough and hardworking Americans need help,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said. “This stimulus package is a long-awaited action from Congress that will assist many workers in supporting their families.”
Importantly, the bill does not include liability protections for businesses. Sadly, we have seen that many employers put profits over people until compelled in court to do the right thing. That said, the Teamsters continue to be disappointed that lawmakers on Capitol Hill could not approve a broader package that would address additional needs of workers and state and local governments. For one, multiemployer pension plans have been further jeopardized by economic conditions created by the coronavirus, making action to protect the hard-earned pensions of retirees and workers more urgent.
Additionally, this legislation leaves behind essential frontline public service workers who have worked tirelessly keeping America running while jeopardizing their health and safety during this pandemic. The bill fails to provide state and local governments with much-needed, unrestricted dollars. These public entities are seeing their funding run dry due to a reduced tax base and additional services they’ve needed to provide like testing this year due to COVID-19. These critical public service needs cannot continue to be neglected, and the union will urge that they are addressed quickly by President-elect Biden and the next Congress.