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    September 23, 2020
  • House Passes COVID-19 Response Bill which Includes Big Wins for TWU Members
    Updated On: May 18, 2020

    House Passes COVID-19 Response Bill which Includes Big Wins for TWU Members


    Late Friday night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act – the latest COVID-19 response bill. The legislation includes what could be some big victories for TWU members (highlighted below). The bill is now headed to the Senate where TWU will advocate strongly to make this measure law.

    The TWU was able to earn a long list of victories as part of this legislation. Here is a brief overview of some of the wins for TWU members in this legislation.

    Essential Workers

    • Defines an essential worker as, “any worker who the state or local government deems to be essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The definition covers more than 95 percent of TWU members. 
    • $850 million to provide essential workers with subsidized care options for people incapable of self-care (children, elderly, and others who require daytime care)
    • Hazard pay
      • An additional $13/hour in premium pay for all essential workers.
      • Total amount of premium pay capped at $10,000 for all essential workers making less than $200,000 a year and $5,000 for those making more than $200,000 a year.
      • Retroactive to January 27, 2020. Retroactive payment required to be paid in one lump sum.
      • Employers of essential workers prohibited from cutting pay or benefits to these workers retroactively to Jan 27, 2020 and through 60 days after the national emergency ends. Same protections for displacement (reduction in hours, furlough, lay off, etc.)
      • This pay is exempted from calculation for other benefits and obligations.
      • For essential workers who die from Covid-19, death benefit to next of kin.

    Occupational Safety and Health

    • Requires OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard within 7 days of enactment that would protect workers at occupational risk of exposure to COVID-19 (including transportation workers). This emergency standard would protect all workers from the virus while at work.
    • Mandates OSHA complete work on an infectious disease standard that would cover future public health crises.

    Paid Sick Leave

    • Requires all employers to provide paid sick leave, both emergency and FMLA, during the pandemic

    Air Division 

    • Cabin air study to determine ways to mitigate airborne pathogens onboard aircraft.
    • Clarifies that airlines must use any CARES Act funds they received to pay workers beyond Sept 30 if they have any leftover funds.
    • Requires Treasury to publish the terms of their deals with the airlines.
    • Prohibits the use of any federal assistance from going to aircraft maintenance contracts at facilities outside of the US.
    • Requires the FAA to build a national preparedness plan for communicable diseases.
    • Mandates face masks onboard aircraft for passengers and crew.
    • Mandates CDC compliant cleaning and disinfection after each flight for aircraft and regularly for ground worker facilities.

    Transit, University, Utilities, and Services Division

    • $15.75 billion immediately for transit agencies. The TWU has asked for $32 billion over two years – so this is a substantial down payment on the continuing needs of these systems.
    • $11.75 billion would be reserved for the large systems that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. The remaining $4 billion would be distributed based on the needs of transit agencies across the country.
    • $875b+ for States and localities to plug deficits created by the ongoing pandemic. This money could be used for transit, school districts, and other local accounts.
    • Requires, as a condition for receiving any federal support, transit systems to certify that they have not furloughed any workers.
    • Mandates face masks in transit systems for riders and workers.
    • Mandates CDC compliant cleaning and disinfection for most transit systems.
    • Requires school contractors (including school bus contractors) to continue to be paid and to pay their workers as a condition of federal funding
    • Clarifies that transit operated by 3rd-party contractors may use federal funds to keep workers employed.

    Railroad Division

    • Parity for Railroad Unemployment Insurance (RR UI) with other UI programs
    • End of sequestration for RR UI
    • Makes RRR payments eligible for tax credits (decreases costs to RRs if they keep people employed)
    • Mandates face masks for all Amtrak passengers and workers
    • Mandates cleaning and disinfection of Amtrak trains and stations regularly
    Unemployment Insurance
     
    • Extends the additional federal payment of $600 through the end of January 2021 (currently expiring in July)

    Healthcare

    • Re-opens healthcare exchanges for a new, two-month long enrollment period for people who have recently lost other healthcare coverage
    • Provides 9 months-worth of 100% COBRA subsidies to workers who lose health insurance, either through furlough or layoff
    • Requires all private insurers to provide Covid-19 testing and treatment at no cost sharing for individuals
    • Allows the FDA to destroy counterfeit medical devices (including fake masks with unapproved TWU logos)

    Other 

    • An additional $1,200 in direct payments to individuals.
    • Elimination of the cap on state/local tax deductions for federal income taxes.
    • Allows essential workers to deduct personal expenses for PPE and other Covid-19-related items.
    • Requires contracting officers to pay federal contractors within 15 days of receiving an invoice 

    Sent via ActionNetwork.org. To update your email address, change your name or address, or to stop receiving emails from Transport Workers Union of America, please click here.


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