For immediate release
February 27, 2021
“UNITE HERE applauds the House for their move to extend unemployment insurance so laid-off workers can get through this difficult time, grant $1,400 stimulus checks, and safeguard workers’ hard-earned pensions.
“We also commend House Democrats for approving a long-overdue minimum wage hike and urge the Senate to follow their lead—the American people don’t need arcane parliamentary excuses, we need results.
“UNITE HERE also commends Congress for supporting public service workers who have risked everything to get this virus under control and allocating urgently needed aid to states, cities, towns, and schools.
“We are disappointed, however, that House Democrats have gone against President Biden’s proposal to cover 100% of COBRA costs for laid off workers. In passing only 85% COBRA coverage, House Democrats have missed the point, leaving behind exactly those who need health insurance the most.
“The people who can’t afford to pay 15% are those most underserved in our communities. 100% 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.
“Coming in at less than 1% of the total cost of this relief package, 100% COBRA to cover health care costs for millions of laid off Americans is not only essential, but doable. It is unacceptable to shortchange workers’ health care while writing a $25 billion blank check to the restaurant industry.”
“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 precisely because we believed Democrats were key to winning back stability in their lives, especially around health care.
“Now, the only hope for the laid off workers most in need is for Senate Democrats and Leader Schumer to pick up where the House fell short and pass 100% COBRA. We’re looking to the Senate to close this gap to ensure that relief is accessible to the people who need it most.”