Above: Six feet apart but together in spirit: Scranton educators tell Sen. Pat Toomey to pass the HEROES Act. “Pat Toomey and the rest of the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate need to step up and pass the HEROES Act,” says Arthur Steinberg, president of AFT Pennsylvania. “It has been nearly two months since the House passed the act, which would provide $3.2 billion in education funding to Pennsylvania. It’s long past time for the Senate to do likewise in order to ensure safe reopening of schools this fall.” Photo credit: American Federation of Teachers.

As U.S. Senators vacationed in July, they were met by a wave of organized protest demanding that they stop stalling and address the needs of workers in an upcoming stimulus package. A July 8 Day of Action organized by the Labor Network for Sustainability and dozens of other labor and environmental groups presented an “F” report card to Senators in their home districts.

LNS Senior Strategic Advisor/Organizer Mike Cavanugh told the Maine Beacon, Senators “clearly are failing, and we need them to do their job. … I just think there’s been a growing recognition on the part of many of the environmental groups that there’s definitely a common cause with the labor movement,” Cavanaugh said. “And this is a moment that sort of crystallizes that the climate crisis and the inequality crisis are converging right now in 2020.”

Evidently Senators are at least trying to give the impression they are listening: As soon as they returned to Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reversed his previous stand and announced that Senate Republicans would move on stimulus legislation. But it is not yet clear that they will address the pressing needs of working people, including:

  • Providing nurses, healthcare workers, transit workers, food service workers, domestic workers and other essential workers with the personal protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely and to protect us in the process
  • Supporting essential workers with hazard pay and paid medical leave in line with the risks they are taking to provide health care and essential services
  • Enacting emergency OSHA standards to ensure workplace safety
  • Guaranteeing that every person in America gets unemployment insurance benefits, direct cash payments, SNAP, rental assistance and other support to survive the economic crisis
  • Investing in states, tribes and local governments in desperate need of funding for schools and essential services like health, housing and food assistance
  • Funding public education so teachers, students and parents can safely return to school and work
  • Ensuring the health and economic well-being of all Black and Brown people living in America, who have been disproportionately hurt and killed by the virus
  • Protecting public health by funding increased Covid-19 testing and contact tracing
  • Providing funding for a functioning postal service
  • Providing funding to ensure that every vote will count in November
  • Passing legislation in line with the Movement for Black Lives demands to reinvest in a shared vision of community safety, infrastructure, and recovery that does not rely on the police