Information on emergency legislative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic

So far, three bills have passed through the House and Senate and are now signed into law.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

This is an emergency spending bill that was signed into law March 6.

It allocates $8.3 billion for help to fund vaccine development, treatment, and public health efforts. You can find a breakdown of where that money is going HERE.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

This is a critical first step in making sure working people facing serious health and financial risks receive the assistance we need.

  • Provides for Free COVID-19 Testing – Private insurance companies and government programs like Medicaid/Medicare/TRICARE are now required to cover testing of COVID-19 with no cost and no cost-sharing, and reimburse labs for testing of the uninsured.
  • Implements Emergency Paid Sick Leave – Employers having less than 500 employees are now required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay for quarantine, treatment or care of a family member related to the coronavirus.
  • Provides for Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion – This legislation ensures 12 weeks of protected job leave for workers to care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed as a result of the coronavirus.
  • Provides Additional Resources for Unemployment Insurance – An additional $1 billion in 2020 for emergency administration grants will be available to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The bill has more than ten times the amount spent on the first two coronavirus bills combined. It's more than double the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was the most significant stimulus bill enacted following the 2008 financial crisis.

Here are a few key provisions:

  • Additional Income Assistance – A $1,200 one-time payment per adult (up to $75,000 in annual income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers) and $500 per child. Families should expect these checks in the next three weeks. Find more information on that HERE.
  • Improvements to Unemployment Insurance (UI) - $600 per week in addition to state UI benefits for four months, a temporary UI program for the part-time, self-employed, gig economy, and other workers excluded from regular UI, 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, and federal funding for states to waive waiting weeks. These provisions will be eligible through December 31, 2020. The bill also allows for $360 million for worker training and support and implementation costs at the Department of Labor. (*Find state-specific UI resources HERE.)
  • Other Consumer Financial Protections - Suspends adverse consumer credit reporting until 120 days after pandemic in the case of forbearance of payment modification. Student loan interest accrual and payments are also suspended for six months. 

What's Missing: 

  • No OSHA emergency standard to better protect frontline workers. See a recent letter HERE denouncing recent attempts to cover up PPE shortages by muzzling health care workers who are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic. 
  • No fix for paid leave exemptions for employers who have more than 500 employees. We are working diligently to engage at state levels to get this exemption lifted – look for more information from Rapid Response next week on that.
  • Nothing to protect at risk pensions or help laid-off workers with COBRA premiums. 

The bill is massive, and we are still trying to unravel it, but we also know we need to continue to push for more relief and economic stimulus. We will continue to get information to you as the situation changes.

Click here to download a PDF summary of the CARES Act you can share with members of your local.

What we still need

H.R. 6390/S. 3568The Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act of 2020 

Click here to read our letter to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging them to pass this legislation. The Mediacl Supply Chain Emergency Act would ensure critically needed medical supplies are produced and delivered in a rapid, efficient manner by utilizing the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ramp up manufacturing. 

Other items

We have outlined a number of asks on what federal assistance looks like in response of COVID-19 and a possible recession.

Additional Union Resources

USW COVID-19 Resources

Position statements on trade and health and safety.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222