Dear Local Presidents, March 15, 2020
Just after midnight this morning (March 14, 2020), the U.S. House of Representatives passed important legislation to protect workers and their families from the negative effects of the coronavirus. TWU staff have fiercely advocated for this measure and will continue to do so until it also passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President – both of which are expected to happen on Monday.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) includes many priorities for TWU members, including paid sick leave for those with the virus or who are providing care for someone with the virus and free testing for all who have been exposed. Unfortunately, due to an oversight by Congressional staff, the bill does not increase funding under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act. This oversight will be corrected in the coming weeks. A full summary of the bill’s provisions can be found below.
While we are glad that the House has passed this bill in addition to approving $8.3 billion worth of disease prevention measures, our government will still need to address the economic consequences being wrought by this virus. Amtrak has reported a 60% decrease in ticket sales on the vital Northeast Corridor and freight railroads are reported a steep decline in shipments. TWU international staff is working on an hourly basis with policymakers in Washington, DC and across the country to provide immediate assistance to every mode of transportation. We will ensure that the damage caused to our members careers and livelihoods is minimized.
Please continue to provide information on your local’s issues with the coronavirus to email@example.com – these stories from the frontlines are essential to our fight to keep workers at the center of any government response to this pandemic and ensuing economic trouble.
What’s HR 6201 – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Paid leave at most employers
- For full time workers: 14 days 100% paid leave for anyone who is either diagnosed with coronavirus or is under quarantine for the virus; part-time workers would get a proportion similar to what they normally work
- For full time workers: 14 days 67% paid leave for anyone caring for someone who is either diagnosed with or under quarantine for the virus; part-time workers would get a proportion similar to what they normally work
- This leave would be in addition to any other banks of leave (sick, vacation, etc.) and workers would have to exhaust this separate pool before employers could charge them days from any other bank
- Through December 2020, adds exposure to coronavirus or public health actions associated with the virus (school closing, office closing, etc.) as a qualifying condition under the FMLA at most employers.
- Anyone who needs to stay home for anything associated with the coronavirus is entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave without consequence
- The first 14 days of this leave can be unpaid, but workers can use accrued leave (sick bank, vacation, etc.) to cover this time at their discretion
- All time after the first 14 days must be paid, but employers can force workers to use their other paid-time off banks until they are exhausted
- Federally funded free testing for individuals who may have been exposed to the coronavirus
- Food security measures (including SNAP grants and free school lunches)