Summary, "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act"

April 1, 2020

Dear Local 800 member,

These are challenging times for all of us, with disruptions of routine for ourselves and our children, financial concerns, and the reality of physical illness that, we know, has already affected the loved ones of some of our members. Please remember in this time of “distancing” that Local 800 is one of the communities to which you belong, and feel free to reach out to us – the Executive Board and staff – if we can be of help. You can contact AFSCME Union Representative Gary Guthman at [email protected] or (213) 248-0381, or your Local 800 Shop Steward or Executive Board member.

See also the websites of AFSCME District Council 36 and AFSCME International for additional information.

The "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act" was signed into law last Friday. You can find here a summary prepared by a law firm that represents labor unions and working people. The summary contains information on the array of provisions in the law, including the $1200 per person cash rebate, small business loans, health care coverage for COVID-19 testing, student loan payment suspensions, eviction relief for renters, and more. Below are some key elements related to unemployment insurance (UI); members at some of our agencies may be needing to access UI now, and hopefully knowledge of these provisions will set at rest the minds of others among you who are concerned about furloughs or layoffs.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits

  • $250 Billion for more UI than already provided
  • UI already provides 60 to 70% of wages for 26 weeks        
  • This law adds: (1) additional $600/week for up to 4 months, through July 31 and (2) additional 13 weeks (so up to 39 weeks) at regular rate

Unemployment Benefits for Formerly Ineligible

  • Eligibility for Part time workers and furloughed employees who can't work due to "shelter in place"  
  • Extends eligibility to newly employed who lost work due to Covid-19 furlough. For these "new categories," Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be ½ average state benefits+ $600/week through December, 2020 (and reduced benefits for "substantial reduction in hours" still valid)
  • Extends eligibility to self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors, freelancers. Amount based on previous income formula

Who Is Not Eligible for UI?

  • Workers still working (from home or in workplace)
  • Workers receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave        
  • New entrants to work force who have no work history and cannot find a job (perhaps all the older college students whose schools have shut down -- but work-study money provided if they were already in such programs)