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Retirees urged to call the Senate demanding federal aid to states, localities

By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME President Lee Saunders and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland urged AFSCME Retirees on Thursday to push the Senate to pass a robust package of federal aid to ailing states, cities and towns facing devastating budget shortfalls as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AFSCME is pushing for at least $1 trillion in state and local aid to be included in the next COVID-19 relief package. The House of Representatives has passed a relief bill – the Heroes Act – that includes that level of support to states and localities, but the Senate has yet to act.

“You spent your careers making your communities safer, healthier and stronger. Now we’re asking your help to get the nation out of some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever faced,” Saunders said. “The coronavirus has triggered an economic downturn that has put state and local governments in the most dire fiscal straits. This is the moment for the federal government to step in with an infusion of aid that will keep AFSCME members on the job, that will save the public services that keep our communities strong.”

State and local governments and school districts are increasingly letting go of the very public service workers whose work is needed more than ever during a public health crisis. More than 1.6 million public sector jobs have already been lost, roughly three times the number cut during the entire Great Recession. An estimated 5.3 million workers could be out of work by the end of 2021 unless Congress helps states and localities that are suffering steep revenue losses due to the pandemic-triggered recession

The House did its part back in May, but the Senate has dithered and dawdled.

Now, with unemployment claims spiking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has, according to Saunders, “outlined a proposal with lots of giveaways for corporations but barely a dime for states, cities and towns to protect essential services.”

Saunders urged the retirees to contact their senators immediately.

“That kind of grassroots pressure can be the difference between bold action and continued obstruction,” he said.

Strickland, who served 12 years in the U.S. House before becoming Ohio’s governor from 2007-2011, urged AFSCME Retirees to call their senators and “ask them to do their jobs.”

“The louder your voices, the better you are heard. Your senators need to hear from you now,” Strickland said. “These phone calls make a difference. They really do.”

Without aid to states, cities and towns, economists predict a prolonged depression. Every dollar invested in public services, they say, will yield $1.70 in economic activity. Business leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have called on Congress to pass aid, which enjoys support from 84% of Americans. Mayors and governors of both parties have been asking for federal assistance since March.

AFSCME Retirees

Please call 1-844-331-0441 to be connected to your senators. Tell them they need to pass at least $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments without delay.

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