Transcript for AFL-CIO head on getting people back to work safely
As businesses, schools and restaurants race to reopen following the pandemic shutdowns, there are a lot of questions about whether the process is moving a little too fast and whether there are enough guidelines in place to keep everyone safe, joining me now with more is afl-cio president Richard trumka. Richard, thanks for being with us. I know you're calling for the immediate enactment of the heroes act, safety guidelines for reopening schools and businesses, what do you fear will happen without those osha guidelines? Well, what will happen is what we're seeing now, you'll see more people will get infected, more frontline workers die, we need the pandemic standard so that osha, which has been totally nonexistence in this process. If they won't enforce the law, at least a standard would allow workers enforce the law. Without it, more workers will get infected and more workers die. Right now there's stalemate in Washington over the next coronavirus relief package. President trump says it's an effort for the worker to get back to work. As the voice of the American worker, what more needs to be done on the federal level? Well, first of all, we need to pass the heroes act, look, it's been 124 days since the house of representatives passed the heroes act and the senate has done virtually nothing, and let's give some scale to this, Amy, we have 32.5 million workers who are either receiving unemployment benefits or will receive unemployment benefits. The real unemployment rate is 11.5%. We've seen the unemployment rate rise for the last four weeks and in addition to that, as the programs from the original cares act continue to expire, your going to see more and more layoffs. At the end of this month, the airlines will start laying off because that program that was designed to keep people on the payroll will expire, and what you had is an anemic response from the senate, a response that was never really intended to be a solution but more as it was intended to be political cover for those senators who are running in tight races. What we have is a stalemate because you have 20 Republican senators who refuse to do anything. And then you have an internal dispute within the administration, between treasury and the white house, about what should be done. When they get those things together, we may be able to have a real negotiations and solve the problem that faces the American public and the American economy. Richard, as you point out, millions of Americans are out of work right now, so what's your message to them who are literally caught in the middle of this bureaucracy and hoping to find some financial relief? Well, there are two answers to that. One is, make sure your voice is talk to the senators that aren't doing anything and make sure they pass the heroes act or at least come back to the table in good faith and start negotiating. Look, this should not be a Democrat or a Republican issue, this is an issue about the economy. Millions of workers are hurting, the economy is slowly going downhill, it's getting worse not better. In order for us to make the economy better we need a second stimulus bill, that means there has to be some kind of resolution to this dispute, the Republican side really needs to get their act together and decide if they want to do what's best for the country not what's best for politics. Richard, trumka, thank you. We certainly appreciate it.
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