For immediate release
March 27, 2020
Hospitality Union President: “Congress must act immediately to require bailed-out employers to extend health care coverage”
NEW YORK—With the U.S. reeling from historic unemployment numbers related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new crisis looms around the corner for millions of Americans who are newly out of work: on April 1, many of them will also lose their employer-provided health insurance.
Currently, the coronavirus stimulus bill allocates billions to bail out affected employers and industries but includes nothing requiring them to extend health care coverage for their laid-off employees.
“This is a health care crisis, yet the widest hole in the safety net is the one that will allow millions of American workers to lose their employer-provided health insurance on April 1,” warned D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE, “The coronavirus legislation as it stands shells out billions to employers but includes nothing requiring them to maintain their workers’ health benefits. Employers who are bailed out with taxpayer money must be obligated to continue providing health insurance. We need a bailout of the American worker, not merely a bailout of American corporations.”
Without employer coverage, in only four days millions of workers and their families will instead be directed into a public health system that is already overburdened by dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediate action is required from Congress to address this crisis and to ensure basic health insurance for those who need it most.
UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers union, estimates that over 90% of its membership in the hotel, gaming, airport, and other service industries—more than 270,000 workers—is not currently working. They are among the over three million Americans who have already filed for unemployment insurance as major industries shut down in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unless immediate steps are taken by their employers, a majority of these workers and their families will lose their health insurance, leaving millions of Americans without coverage in the midst of a global pandemic.
UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents over 300,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada.