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House Dems Urge PPP Access for Labor Unions

April 29, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, 105 House Democrats, led by House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), sent a letter to House Democratic and Republican leadership urging that labor unions be made eligible to access to recovery funds made possible under the CARES Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program. The letter notes that while faith-based nonprofit institutions and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits are able to benefit from the PPP, 501(c)(5) organizations, like labor unions, were excluded.

 

“The exclusion of labor unions is a serious impediment to achieving the main goal of the CARES Act—to help workers weather the economic effects of the crisis. In January 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that unions represented 14.6 million hard-working Americans. Now, staggering numbers of union members who work in critical industries have been thrown into financial insecurity as company after company has furloughed or laid off millions of workers,” wrote the members. “Compounding those layoffs, the severity of the coronavirus’ economic disruption has threatened the financial viability of many labor unions as their workers are laid off or furloughed causing dramatic declines in the union member dues that sustain their operations and staff.

 

“The CARES Act and PPP are meant to provide immediate help to workers and families suffering from the economic halt needed to contain the coronavirus. We cannot do that by excluding labor unions,” said Rep. Chu. “Labor unions are so vital to protecting the rights and safety of the workers who will be tasked with restarting our economy, even as the COVID-19 crisis spreads. Labor unions exist to protect our workers, and so we must ensure they are here now and moving forward, as the safety of workers is so essential to the wellbeing of our country.”

 

“Labor unions have played an essential role in moving not just our nation’s economy forward, but in defining working conditions for all American. Unions and their members built the middle class,” said Rep. Lowenthal. “During this crisis, it is more critical than ever that we ensure that labor unions who are fighting every day for our workers, get the tools they need to continue doing so. Supporting working families during this crisis requires that we also support labor unions.”

 

“I am proud to support my local labor unions in this commonsense request with my colleagues, Representative Lowenthal and Representative Chu,” said Rep. Garcia. “Labor unions deserve eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Our unions represent frontline and essential workers, and they should receive the COVID-19 federal assistance promised to other non-profits and small businesses under the recently-passed CARES Act. This is about fairness, protecting working families, and defending the middle class.”

 

The letter is available online here and below.


 

April 28, 2020

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                                  The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker                                                                                   Minority Leader

H-232, The Capitol                                                                 H-204, The Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515                                                        Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:

Thank you for your leadership in fighting for our nation’s workers as our country responds to these unprecedented health and economic challenges. 

As you know, as a key part of the CARES Act, Congress set up an unprecedented forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), to aid small businesses and nonprofits in retaining their workforce and ensure they can weather this crisis. However, while faith-based nonprofit institutions and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits are among the beneficiaries of the program, 501(c)(5) organizations, like labor unions, were excluded, despite the critical role they and their members will play in overcoming—and recovering from—this crisis.

The exclusion of labor unions is a serious impediment to achieving the main goal of the CARES Act—to help workers weather the economic effects of the crisis.  In January 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that unions represented 14.6 million hard-working Americans.  Now, staggering numbers of union members who work in critical industries have been thrown into financial insecurity as company after company has furloughed or laid off millions of workers.

Compounding those layoffs, the severity of the coronavirus’ economic disruption has threatened the financial viability of many labor unions as their workers are laid off or furloughed causing dramatic declines in the union member dues that sustain their operations and staff.

It is especially critical at this time that the organizations fighting for America’s workers have equal access to the recovery funds made possible by the CARES Act.  While unions hit hard by the crisis were excluded, large corporations can benefit from exceptions in the CARES Act that allow them to receive forgivable PPP loans meant for small businesses.  

Congress must ensure labor unions can continue to do the crucial work of representing and fighting for rights of workers.  Unions and their members will be crucial actors in our economic recovery, and we urge you to include them as eligible entities for federal support in programs like the PPP.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you on legislation to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and strengthen our economy, our workers, and our families.

Sincerely,