Leading Labor Unions Blast Trump Administration for Skirting CARES Act Payroll Requirements

Monday, April 27, 2020

In letter to Sens. Schumer and Brown and Speaker Pelosi, seven labor unions sound the alarm that Trump Administration is exploiting loopholes in CARES Act at the expense of working families;

Unions urge Senators and House Speaker to take steps in future federal aid packages to ensure worker protection provisions are binding and enforceable;

WASHINGTON – Seven leading labor unions, representing millions of working people across the country, today blasted the Trump Administration for skirting payroll requirements in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act at the expense of working families.

In letters to Senators Chuck Schumer and Sherrod Brown and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Transport Workers Union (TWU), United Auto Workers (UAW), and United Steelworkers (USW) sounded the alarm that as the CARES Act is being implemented, important worker protections are not being required of various employers and corporate entities. The unions expressed specific concern that the Federal Reserve's lending facility for large businesses does not require those companies to maintain workers on payroll, while the program for mid-sized businesses fails to include anti-outsourcing provisions or any provisions protecting workers' right to organize.

While the CARES Act requires that most employers receiving federal aid to keep 90% of their employees on payroll, the unions were dismayed that the Trump Administration and the Federal Reserve effectively waived any requirement to maintain workforces at companies receiving aid.

"Given the extraordinary nature of the support that the federal government is providing for the private sector through the CARES Act, the intent of the CARES Act to protect good jobs as a condition of receiving aid was a completely reasonable effort to ensure that taxpayers money is used well," wrote union leaders. "We have been highly disappointed that the Trump Administration has, once again, shown complete disregard for the well-being of working families and failed to implement any requirements that would benefit workers."

To fight back against the Trump Administration's attack on working families, the unions are asking Sens. Schumer and Brown and Speaker Pelosi to ensure that companies and corporations receiving federal aid through the CARES Act adhere to worker protections in the legislation and that future legislation related to COVID-19 does not include similar loopholes.

"As powerful voices and leaders in the U.S. Senate for working families, we urge you to take steps to ensure that the worker protection provisions are actually imposed on recipients of federal aid in response to the current pandemic. In addition, we urge you to ensure that any future legislation responding to the pandemic and the economic fallout includes not only robust worker protection provisions, but that those provisions are binding and enforceable on recipients of federal taxpayer assistance, without the loopholes in the CARES Act that the Trump Administration has exploited to undermine them already," the union leaders added.

President Trump signed the CARES Act into law at the end of March. The legislation allocates more than $2 trillion in federal spending to support working families, businesses, and hospitals dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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