Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans Vote on another Pitiful COVID-19 Relief Package

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed two larger Covid-19 relief bills, the HEROES Act in May and an updated version of that bill earlier this month. Both House bills include funding for state and local governments to support relief efforts and relief funding for schools to meet educational needs, require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) to issue enforceable rules to protect workers during the crisis, and ensure other critical support for workers and communities. None of these provisions are present in the Senate’s bill voted on today.

In response to the vote, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans are useless.”

BlueGreen Alliance Endorses Prop. 15 to Close Corporate Tax Loopholes, Put Schools and Communities First

The BlueGreen Alliance today announced its support for Proposition 15, which will close corporate property tax loopholes to generate billions in investments for California’s schools and local communities—all while protecting homeowners and renters, small businesses, and agriculture.

“Californians are facing tough times—wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic, and skyrocketing unemployment—and we need real investments in our schools and basic services now,” said JB Tengco, Western States Director for the BlueGreen Alliance. “Proposition 15 will shore up the basic resources we need to invest in schools, firefighters and wildfire preparation, and relief now during these difficult times and for years to come. We urge voters to say ‘yes’ to Proposition 15 on or before November 3.”

Research has shown that only 10% of the biggest, most valuable commercial and industrial property owners would generate 92% of the new revenue—illustrating the fact that a fraction of top corporations in the state would finally pay their fair share. Moreover, Proposition 15 exempts owners of commercial and industrial properties with combined value of $3 million or less and implements new small business tax cuts.

House Passes another Covid-19 Relief Package while Senate Republicans Sit on their Hands

This $2.2 trillion dollar COVID-19 relief bill retains provisions from the original, including providing funding for state and local governments to support relief efforts and relief funding for schools to meet educational needs, requiring the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) to issue enforceable rules to protect workers during the crisis, and ensuring other critical support for workers and communities.

In response to the passage of the bill, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“While Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans bellow about the need to allow large corporations to put workers’ lives at risk with impunity, the House has again shown leadership and passed a second Covid-19 relief bill. The updated HEROES Act rightly puts the health and safety of workers first and provides support to state and local governments that have been abandoned by the Trump administration.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from the coronavirus. Millions are unemployed. It is inexcusable that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have refused to stand up for the American people for the last four months. The Senate must act quickly to provide the support working families need.”

Senate Republicans’ New COVID Package Just as Bad as HEALS

“The bill voted on today is no more than the same grab-bag of terrible anti-worker policies introduced earlier this summer wrapped up in a new package. Instead of wasting time on bill after bill that fail to protect working people, the Senate should immediately take up the House-passed HEROES Act, which has been sitting on McConnell’s desk for more than three months.

“Unlike this bill from Senate Republicans, the HEROES Act puts working families first by including an enforceable emergency workplace standard that will require companies to protect their workers from COVID-19 exposure on the job, much needed relief to working families, funding for the manufacturing of personal protective equipment here in the United States, and funds for local and state governments and schools.

“We urge the Senate to do what’s right and to pass urgently needed relief that prioritizes the safety and needs of workers and communities.”    

BlueGreen Alliance Calls for Robust COVID-19 Relief Package

As a coalition of some of the nation’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations, collectively representing millions of members and supporters, the BlueGreen Alliance urges  Congress to reject harmful provisions in the HEALS Act and instead move swiftly to advance critical relief for the COVID-19 crisis that prioritizes workers, families, and communities most in need.

Urgent relief is needed— America has surpassed 4 million cases and 150,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. The ten-week total for unemployment claims has surpassed 40 million. And months into this pandemic, workers continue to struggle to stay safe and healthy on the job, particularly as states begin to reopen parts of the economy and state and local government budgets are ravaged. We must ensure the safety of workers on the job in the face of COVID-19, whether they are healthcare workers providing critical care, workers in warehouses or grocery stores, utility workers ensuring critical infrastructure is functioning, or manufacturing workers producing essential products. And we must prioritize the most vulnerable; safeguard working peoples’ jobs, homes, and livelihoods; and shore up essential public services.

Click below to read the full letter.

COVID-19 Federal Response & Economic Stimulus – BlueGreen Alliance Legislative Priorities

We urge Congress to immediately pass a robust set of stimulus packages that meet the following standards, principles, and conditions, and incorporate the policy priorities outlined below.

Overarching Standards/Principles:

  • Ensure all projects built with public resources are subject to Buy America standards that maximize the return to taxpayers and the American economy;
  • Enforce Davis-Bacon provisions that ensure workers are paid prevailing wages;
  • Utilize project labor agreements (PLA), community benefit agreements (CBA), local hire, and other provisions and practices;
  • Drive forward-looking planning and investments that meet environmental standards and build resilient infrastructure systems and communities;
  • Ensure we “Buy Clean” to prioritize use of the most efficient, resilient, and cleanest materials and products with the lowest carbon and toxicity footprints and “Buy Fair” to enhance labor standards, workers’ rights, career pathways, equity and community
    benefits;
  • Enhance and enforce hiring and procurement policies that benefit low-income communities, people of color, and women;
  • Prioritize investments in those communities most in need;
  • Workers and families must receive the majority of the benefits of any federal aid package and aid will be clawed back if workers don’t benefit; and
  • Ensure adequate enforcement, including an outside oversight board with the authority to periodically review recipient compliance and adequate funding for state and local enforcement to ensure construction projects truly meet PLAs, CBAs and other workforce
    provision requirements.

Click below to read the full document:

Maine Environmental Organizations Stand in Solidarity with Striking Bath Iron Works Workers

“Our role as stewards of the environment and advocates for workers and their families does not often lend itself to weighing in on labor issues, but we know that a fair economy and a clean environment must go hand in hand. Injustice in our economy often leads to—or is coupled with—environmental degradation, which is why the opponents of action on climate change are often the same opponents of working people demanding economic justice. It is also why many community and political leaders have been focusing on the need to address both economic injustice and environmental damage.

“In that light, we stand in solidarity with the workers at Bath Iron Works as they exercise their hard-won rights—at great cost to themselves—to ensure that the terms and conditions of their jobs at BIW continue to be fair and just.”

BlueGreen Alliance Calls for Justice, Equity, and Fairness in America Now

“The murders of Black Americans at the hands of police in Minneapolis and Louisville are just the latest examples of the pervasive and systematic racism that has permeated this country since before its founding. Black and Brown Americans live this reality every day.

“Justice must be served for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless victims of this brutality, but that alone will not absolve our communities or our country for these heinous acts, nor will it prevent them from happening in the future. It is imperative we make racial and economic justice the forefront of our work to move this country forward. For the BlueGreen Alliance, that means continuing to put equity and fairness at the center of our efforts to fight the climate crisis and create good jobs for people across this nation.

“Our partners in the labor and environmental movements are strong leaders in the fight to build an inclusive, just and fair nation, but we must all strive to do more.”

BlueGreen Alliance Welcomes House Introduction of HEROES Act

Among its provisions are sections to provide funding for state and local governments to support relief efforts, to require the Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) to issue enforceable rules to protect workers during the crisis, and provide other critical support for workers and communities.

In response to the introduction of the bill, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“There isn’t a sliver of the American economy that hasn’t been touched by the Covid-19 crisis. The HEROES Act takes necessary steps to provide support to state and local governments that have been abandoned by the Trump administration and will finally require OSHA to do its job and release enforceable standards to protect American workers. The bill includes additional provisions to ensure the manufacture and supply of critical equipment and protect communities and workers’ jobs, wages, and benefits.

“Tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives and millions have lost their jobs. Contrary to Mitch McConnell’s determination to ‘wait and see,’ this is the time for action. The Senate must follow the example of the House and not waste time while lives are on the line.”

Racist Comments about Meatpacking Workers are Disgusting and Shameful

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar defended Donald Trump’s decision to use the Defense Production Act to force meatpacking plants to remain open by stating that he believes infected employees were being exposed to the virus in their communities and bringing it into processing plants as opposed to being exposed to the virus in the plants themselves. Similarly, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, stated during a recent hearing that an outbreak in Brown County, Wisconsin was “due to the meatpacking” not “just the regular folks in Brown County.”

Meatpacking towns from Iowa to Maryland accounted for eight of the 10 fastest growing Covid-19 hotspots in the past two weeks. About 44% of meatpackers are Latino and 25% are African American according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

In response to these comments, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Every worker in America deserves a safe workplace, regardless of the color of their skin or where they were born. That should go without saying—but, tragically, during this Trump presidency it must be said. Workers in the meatpacking industry are essential, not expendable, and their lives are worth every bit as much as anybody else’s. These racist comments are disgusting and shameful.”

Trump to Force Workers Back to Unsafe Conditions

In response to Trump’s statement, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:

“Workers in the American food industry are vital to us all, but the terrible working conditions that already existed in that industry have only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 virus. Donald Trump is finally using the Defense Production Act, but not to ensure that American manufacturers produce the protective equipment that essential workers so desperately need to be safe. Instead, Trump is using the DPA to try to force workers back on the job in unsafe conditions. It doesn’t get more wrong than that.”

BlueGreen Alliance Legislative Priorities for COVID-19 Federal Response and Economic Stimulus

Click the preview to view the full document.

We urge Congress to immediately pass a robust set of stimulus packages that meet the following standards, principles, and conditions, and incorporate the policy priorities outlined in the document below.

Overarching Standards/Principles:

  • Ensure all projects built with public resources are subject to Buy America standards that maximize the return to taxpayers and the American economy;
  • Enforce Davis-Bacon provisions that ensure workers are paid prevailing wages;
  • Utilize project labor agreements (PLA), community benefit agreements (CBA), local hire, and other provisions and practices;
  • Drive forward-looking planning and investments that meet environmental standards and build resilient infrastructure systems and communities;
  • Ensure we “Buy Clean” to prioritize use of the most efficient, resilient, and cleanest materials and products with the lowest carbon and toxicity footprints and “Buy Fair” to enhance labor standards, workers’ rights, career pathways, equity and community benefits;
  • Enhance and enforce hiring and procurement policies that benefit low-income communities, people of color, and women;
  • Prioritize investments in those communities most in need;
  • Workers and families must receive the majority of the benefits of any federal aid package and aid will be clawed back if workers don’t benefit; and
  • Ensure adequate enforcement, including an outside oversight board with the authority to periodically review recipient compliance and adequate funding for state and local enforcement to ensure construction projects truly meet PLAs, CBAs and other workforce provision requirements.

Click the link below to read our priorities.