Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) has introduced a bill that would make striking workers eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal food assistance program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In an op-ed published in the Erie Times-News, Fetterman wrote:
“The right to strike is fundamental to the right to organize and unionize — but being forced to choose between feeding your family and protecting your labor rights isn't a choice at all. We need to make sure that hunger and starvation can't be used as a weapon to break workers.
Striking workers are currently excluded from SNAP just because they're on strike. That's wrong.
In the op-ed, Fetterman also expressed support for the 1400 striking members of UE Locals 506 and 618 in Erie.
“We appreciate Senator Fetterman's support, and his understanding that what's good for workers is good for America,” said Local 506 President Scott Slawson. “His bill to allow striking workers to qualify for SNAP benefits would help us immensely in our struggle to make Wabtec provide family-supporting wages and benefits and hold them accountable to their workforce. Workers should never be forced to choose between standing up for what’s right and feeding their families.”
“For decades, corporations have had the upper hand against workers, and it has resulted in stagnating wages, widening inequality and rampant corporate greed,” said UE General President Carl Rosen. “Senator Fetterman's bill would be an important step in restoring power to workers so they can fight for a decent standard of living.”
The bill has been endorsed by several of the country’s largest unions, including the Teamsters, the National Education Association, the Communications Workers of America, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, and also by anti-hunger groups Food Research Action Center and Hunger-Free America.