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AFSCME’s Saunders: Biden plan to aid public services is ‘a massive step forward’

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By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME President Lee Saunders says President-elect Joe Biden’s proposal to invest $600 billion to support public services – including $350 billion in flexible aid to states, cities, towns and schools – is a “massive step forward.”

“But given the breadth and depth of the economic crisis, additional aid likely will be needed,” Saunders says in a statement.

The incoming Biden-Harris administration’s proposal is aimed at restoring critical services – everything from public safety to emergency medical response to trash pickup – and keeping the workers who provide them on the job.

The proposal is part of a sweeping relief package from the Biden-Harris team that calls for a $1.9 trillion investment to boost the economy and quell the coronavirus pandemic.

“President-elect Biden’s recovery plan has exactly the right priorities: ending the pandemic and jumpstarting the economy. From raising the minimum wage to increased unemployment benefits to vaccine mobilization, this rescue package will help get America back on track,” Saunders said.

AFSCME, along with a coalition of other public service unions and advocacy groups, pushed for $1 trillion in federal aid to states, cities, towns and schools. The $350 billion proposal “will cover immediate needs,” Saunders said.

Massive budget shortfalls triggered by the coronavirus pandemic have led to the loss of nearly 1.4 million public service jobs since February. This includes front-line workers like nurses, correctional officers, first responders, child care providers and many more.

“The public service workforce in states and localities never returned to pre-Great Recession levels. The austerity measures of the last decade-plus have come home to roost, leaving our communities tragically unprepared for a catastrophic public health crisis,” Saunders pointed out. “The president-elect knows that these everyday heroes deliver the essential public services that will help us distribute the vaccine, treat the sick and keep businesses open. He believes deeply that, for their courage and sacrifice, they deserve better than to get pink slips.”

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