San José, CA – Talks between Democrats and Republicans about extending economic aid remained deadlocked as of Thursday morning, August 6. In May, Democrats passed their HEROES act to extend the $600 additional unemployment benefit, known as FPUC, or Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, as well as other economic aid for renters, state and local government, and others. But Republican senators and the Trump administration did nothing, hoping that the COVID-19 pandemic would go away, and the economy would recover in short order. The Republicans have also been hampered by divisions in the Senate, where a large minority don’t want to extend any more aid. The Trump administration had its own proposal for a payroll tax cut that the Republican-majority Senate rejected.
Grandville, MI – Stagehands held signs and rallied outside the office of U.S. Representative Bill Huizenga in this suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Huizenga, like all but one Republican, voted against the HEROES Act in the House of Representatives.
San José, CA – The $600 a week in additional unemployment insurance benefits is set to expire at the end of July. This aid is called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC. More than 25 million people who are receiving regular state unemployment benefits, or the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA for the self-employed, will lose their FPUC benefit.
San José, CA – In less than two weeks the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC, which provides an extra $600 a week to those who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will end. The FPUC was part of CARES act passed back in March as disaster relief as the pandemic began to ravage the U.S. economy.
Lansing, MI – 120 union members and supporters marched through downtown Lansing, July 15, chanting, “They say cut back! We say fight back!” The march stopped at a union worker statue where Nick Eaton of IATSE Local 247 spoke, “This statue represents the workers who built the new buildings you see in front of you. It also reflects the history of factory workers before deindustrialization left ugly scenes and empty lots, like many cities in the Midwest.”
COVID-19 infections and end to enhanced benefits to make a bad situation worse
San José, CA – On Thursday, July 9, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the broadest measure of people on unemployment continued to climb. In the week ending June 20, the total number was 32.9 million, up by 1.4 million from a week earlier. This number includes those who are receiving the regular state unemployment insurance benefits, the growing number getting the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC, and other smaller programs.
Grand Rapids, MI – After a lively rally on June 24 with nearly 100 workers, the stagehands union IATSE is calling a new rally on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol for July 15. The stagehands and other gig workers are demanding the passage of the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act by the U.S. Senate. July 25 is looming as the $600 per week unemployment boost that keeps people paying their bills is set to run out. Tensions are rising not just in Michigan, but also for stagehands from New York City to Hollywood, across the whole country.
Trump administration still opposed to extending aid for unemployed
San José, CA – The latest report by the Labor Department on Thursday, July 2 indicated new claims for aid for unemployed showed no improvement for the third week in a row. While new claims for the regular state unemployment insurance benefits did fall by 50,000 from last week’s report, to 1.43 million, new claims for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA actually rose by 110,000 from last week’s report, to 840,000. Taken together, new claims for the two main programs to aid the unemployed totaled 2.27 million for the week ending June 27, slighting more than the previous week and the same as two weeks ago.
San José, CA – In six weeks, tens of millions of unemployed people face the end of the additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance benefits. This additional benefit that helps low income workers the most is set to expire due to its being opposed by the Republican-controlled Senate. These same workers were hardest hit by the pandemic recession, and many face the prospect of their jobs not coming back. This is just another example of how the economic relief has helped large corporations, which can aided by the Federal Reserve, while low-income workers are subject to punishment by republicans who see the aid as discouraging people from returning to work.