April Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Small Margins Yield Big Results

In March, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which breaks from the tradition of previous stimulus efforts, and delivers significant benefits to working families. 

To the great relief of approximately 120,000 Steelworker members and retirees, the plan included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act. The Butch Lewis Act provides up to $86 billion for multiemployer pension plans that were facing peril resulting from corporate bankruptcies, industry consolidation and investment losses, and the economic fallout related to the coronavirus.  This investment will ensure more than 100 at-risk multiemployer pension plans covering ten million union members, widows and retirees will be fully funded for at least 30 years.   

However, the American Recovery Act’s primary focus is to address the protracted health and economic crises stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.    

Regarding health, the plan:

  • Provides $48.3 billion for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing,
  • Allocates $7.5 billion for the distribution of vaccines,
  • Stimulates domestic job creation with the investment of $10 billion in the production of PPE, vaccines and medical supplies, and  
  • Extends COBRA coverage for uninsured workers with a 100 percent subsidy, which is vital because it ensures many of our Steelworker siblings will continue to have access to quality, affordable health care. 
  • Extend more than $150 million for COVID-19 worker protections, with $75 million dedicated to OSHA enforcement in high-risk sectors, and

Regarding the economy, the plan: 

  • Will immediately direct $1,400 to lower- and middle-income families who have been hit hardest over the last year,
  • Provide an average tax cut of more than $6,000 to more than 70% of Americans,
  • Enhances unemployment benefits through September, providing an additional $300 for impacted workers. 

So much more could be written about how working people will benefit from this historic legislation, and I’d like to close by noting how significant Steelworkers were in making all of this happen. 

This legislation was able to reach the President’s desk because it had the support of pro-worker majorities that we helped elect by making phone calls, knocking on doors, and talking to each other in our worksites and communities. 

Additionally, the inclusion of the Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan is a monumental victory for our union and so many of our members, retirees and staff who all worked for nearly a decade to see this through. 

Be proud, Steelworkers!  We did it!

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

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