For immediate release
March 10, 2021
Union President: “The American Rescue Plan shows that there is real power in working people coming together and demanding what they deserve.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the union of hospitality workers, UNITE HERE, celebrates passage of President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan, including 100% funding for COBRA coverage for laid off workers. This legislation will change the lives of millions of workers by extending enhanced unemployment insurance, granting $1,400 stimulus checks, safeguarding workers’ hard-earned pensions, and providing essential health coverage to those who need it most.
“The American Rescue Plan shows that there is real power in working people coming together and demanding what they deserve. Hospitality workers have spent weeks phone banking and writing to their Congressional representatives, urging them to pass the American Rescue Plan and years playing a role in local and national politics to have the representation we need in Washington,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor. “Going into the final stretch, workers’ advocacy and endurance aided the passage of historic health care legislation. We are glad to have good news to help weather this storm.”
UNITE HERE housekeepers, cooks, servers, and dishwashers—like millions of Americans—have endured a lot this last year, and having the security of 100% COBRA coverage so workers who have lost their jobs don’t also lose their health insurance in a pandemic will give families much needed relief.
“Through my union job, I’ve had great healthcare coverage that allowed me to afford life-saving medication and important doctor visits—but the virus changed all that,” said Vikki Earle, Chef at IL Creations at NASA Cafeteria. “Last March, I was laid off from my job and then I lost my health insurance. Hearing that I’ll be able to have my health insurance again is a sigh of relief.”
Continuation coverage is critical to 13 million Americans who have lost health insurance as a result of being laid off during the pandemic. UNITE HERE hospitality workers faced 98% layoffs at the peak of the shutdowns and more than 75% are still unemployed today.
The legislation passed by Democrats fulfills a promise to the hard-working Americans who helped put them in power. During the presidential election, 1,700 laid-off hospitality workers knocked the doors of 3 million voters in four battleground states, making a critical difference in the results. Then UNITE HERE joined Stacey Abrams and others in Georgia to take back the Senate, knocking on over 1.5 million doors to win back our future.
UNITE HERE has over 300,000 members working in the North American hospitality industry. Over 75% of its members are still out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, down from a peak of 98%. During the 2020 presidential election UNITE HERE ran the largest union door-to-door canvassing operation in the United States.