Washington, DC – Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement on the updated HEROES Act introduced yesterday by U.S. House of Representatives Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
“The updated Heroes Act provides important and timely financial relief that our nation’s transportation workforce, and the critical systems they build, operate, and maintain, so desperately need and deserve. By providing critical funding, this legislation will prevent hundreds of thousands of Americans—including those who have been seeing us through the pandemic—from hitting the unemployment line and ensures our transportation sector does not spiral into economic ruin.
“We are especially pleased that this legislation includes an extension of the highly successful worker-first airline Payroll Support Program. This provision will keep tens of thousands of aviation employees on the job with benefits through March, and ensure these essential workers are well-positioned to turn this industry around once this public health crisis is behind us.
“By supplying our nation’s transit agencies with $32 billion in emergency funding, this legislation will also ensure the millions of Americans who depend on public transportation still have access to these vital services, all while keeping transit workers employed through the pandemic. Similarly, by providing Amtrak with relief funding, and stipulating that the carrier maintain current service and not furlough workers, this legislation will protect our national passenger railroad and the good jobs it supplies.
“This legislation also provides a vital unemployment lifeline to railroad workers. It ensures longshore and shipyard workers can receive compensation if they are out of work due to COVID-19. And it offers financial assistance to operators of vessels enrolled in the Maritime Security Program, which is critically important to America’s sealift readiness and national security.
“We know that the economic needs are not limited to transportation, and that workers in every other sector are depending on Congress to help them through this crisis. By directly funding our postal service with $15 billion in emergency aid, providing important aid to state and local governments, and extending unemployment insurance, the financial relief provided in this bill will reach millions of working families. Finally, by including a number of health and safety provisions specific to a pandemic, including strong federal mandates on PPE and the use of employee and passenger masks across all modes of transportation, this bill makes significant safety improvements for working people across our economy.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, transportation workers have been at the center of COVID-19 relief efforts, ensuring people and goods get to where they need to be. These essential and dedicated employees have put their lives on the line to see us through this crisis, often without the health, safety and financial protections they need to ensure their wellbeing. Now it is time for Congress and the White House to return the favor by coming together and negotiating in the best interests of those who have sacrificed so much for all of us.”