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05.15.20

IFPTE Urges House to Support State and Local Government, Provide Aid to Workers and Federal Employees, and Pass the HEROES Act

May 15, 2020

Dear Representative,

As the executive officers of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), representing upwards of 85,000 workers, we are writing to ask you to vote for the HEROES Act. American workers and their families need unprecedented and immediate support as they face unemployment levels matching the depths of the Great Depression. In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, emergency funding for the federal, state, and local response must be sufficient to meet these needs.

The HEROES Act includes a number of legislative proposals requested by IFPTE. Foremost, the legislation includes funding for state and local governments in recognition of the scale of the dire fiscal situation that the pandemic and resulting economic crisis has created. With $540 billion for states and territories, $375 billion for cities and counties, $90 billion for state education systems, and a 14% increase to Federal Medical Assistance Percentage payments to state Medicare systems, the HEROES Act proposes to provide direct aid, resources, and flexibility to government entites at the center of the pandemic response.

Throughout the pandemic, IFPTE has consistently asked Congress to put workers first, second, third, and last. The HEROES Act takes the urgency of our call for seriously supporting working people by including a 100% federal subsidy for COBRA, creating a $13 per hour Heroes Fund for workers in frontline/healthcare settings and many other categories of essential workers, expanding the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance program, and distributing an additional recovery rebate credit to working families. Further, the legislation extends eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program to labor unions so that the democratically chosen representatives of working people can weather this crisis and advocate for working Americans. This legislation also requires OSHA to issue an enforceable Emergency Temporary Standard for infectious disease, which is critical for people working at their worksites as we look ahead to reopening the economy.

This legislation also acknowledges the role of federal employees in this pandemic and offers a $13 per hour federal pandemic premium pay for those reporting to worksites where regular contact with the public occurs or social distancing is not possible. Further, it includes a presumption of workplace illness for federal employees whose duties include a risk of exposure to COVID-19, and mandates telework for employees authorized to do so across all agencies. This legislation also provides ICE detainees with access to free legal correspondence via fax, email, and telephone, an important step as IFPTE continues to advocate for Immigration Court proceedings to be conducted remotely while meeting the liberty and due process concerns of respondents and the health and safety concerns of federal employees and the public.

While IFPTE supports the scale and focus of the HEROES Act, we are concerned about gaps in Congressional oversight in CARES Act provisions, namely the impact and effect of Federal Reserve policy on the corporate bond market. Further, the absence of provisions to allow electronic voting for NLRB union representation elections leaves workers without a safe and reasonable process for winning a voice at work. This legislation is also missing a prohibition on federal government outsourcing and leaves energy sector workers and manufacturing workers going to worksites in DHS-defined essential industries out of the Heroes Fund. These deficiencies must be addressed and IFPTE will continue to advance these concerns.

Despite these reservations, IFPTE urges you to vote for this urgently needed legislation. Congressional inaction will result in a long-term avoidable economic crisis.

Sincerely,

Paul Shearon
IFPTE President

Matthew S. Biggs
IFPTE Secretary Treasurer/Legislative Director

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