3/23/21: We have posted a summary of the American Rescue Plan Act. Of particular note for UE locals, this new legislation includes funding for paid sick and family leave and for premium hazard pay for essential workers — UE locals should be in touch with their assigned staff representative about negotiating measures with their employer to ensure these benefits continue or are instituted.
3/23/21: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has updated the COVID-19 section of their website. The website includes information about a new “National Emphasis Program” to ensure that employees in high-hazard industries or work tasks are protected from the hazard of contracting COVID-19 and new guidelines for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
The February 2021 UE Steward contains updated guidance for UE stewards during the COVID-19 pandemic, with updated information about physical safety at work, vaccines, and representing members through online platforms.
The Department of Labor has posted a helpful Q&A about the extension of COVID-19 unemployment benefits contained in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Appropriations Act. The Act, which was signed into law on December 27, is far from the comprehensive relief bill working people need, but it provides some necessary stop-gap funding. Of particular importance for UE locals to note, if private-sector workplaces were granted paid sick and family leave by the Families First bill, then locals will need to take action to make sure it continues. Read our summary of the bill here.
COVID19 vaccinations will be an important issue for workers in 2021. Employers may make efforts to require employees to get vaccines. UE members who hear about such policies in their workplaces should contact their UE staff member immediately. While vaccinations are critical to getting normal life back on track, there will be a number of workplace issues that need to be properly addressed. Staff will be prepared to assist UE locals in dealing with an employer on those issues.
As our nation and our world take measures to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, workers need effective rank-and-file unions more than ever, to make sure workers’ voices are heard as decisions are being made which impact our health, our jobs, and our ability to provide for our families.
In this section of our website you will find suggestions for maintaining local union functioning, demands locals should consider making on employers, and suggestions for what to do if COVID-19 comes into your workplace.
Other COVID-19 Links
- A UE Steward’s Guide to Fighting COVID-19: Guiding our members through an unprecedented health and economic crisis.
- “The Fight of Our Lives,” an online toolkit to help workers who don't have a union take on their employers and demand a safe workplace during the pandemic.
- Summaries of two prior pieces of COVID-19 legislation. Please refer to our summary of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Appropriations Act for information on which provisions of these earlier pieces of legislation remain in effect. We will no longer be updating these pages.
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, H.R. 748) included expanded unemployment insurance, forgivable loans to help employers with less than 500 workers maintain payroll, direct payments to adults, and aid for state and local governments, homeowners and renters, and students.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) included measures to cover COVID-19 testing, provide paid sick leave, strengthen unemployment insurance benefits, and keep working people from going without food.
- The UE's officers' April 2020 statement, “The Relief Workers Need Now,” outlines the kind of federal action that will be needed in order to ensure that all people have food, shelter, healthcare, and telecommunications to stay connected through the length of the public health crisis, and to avoid the potential of an economic depression not seen since the 1930’s.
- The UE's officers March 2020 statement, “Workers’ Lives vs. Corporate Profits,” calls on workers in non-essential workplaces to demand that their employers shut down until the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, and to take advantage of provisions in the CARES Act to provide income for their families.