We Need The People’s Bailout!
We need a swift, inclusive bailout, by and for the people.
As the COVID-19 crisis ravages the globe and impacts the health and stability of our communities, Congress has responded with a stimulus package that doesn’t satisfy the level of direct aid that needs to be going to the people. Instead it prioritizes returning the economy back to a status quo that provides security for corporations and the wealthy few. We need to prioritize the workers that are keeping our communities safe, healthy, and fed. We ought to treat workers as essential, not disposable. We need a bailout that will allow us to emerge more resilient and united than ever.
That is why the Sierra Club and hundreds of other allied organizations are demanding a People’s Bailout. The People’s Bailout is rooted in justice and balances short- and long-term recovery. A just bailout follows the Five Principles, that have been developed and supported by the Sierra Club and hundreds of fellow organizations, unions, community leaders and policymakers.
1. Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions.
That means health protections for ALL people — low-wage workers, health workers, independent contractors, family farmers, Black and Latinx communities, undocumented immigrants, Indigenous peoples, people who are incarcerated, people who are homeless or housing insecure, and others likely to be hit first and worst by COVID-19 and the economic downturn.
free and accessible testing, treatment, and protective equipment;
expanded hospital capacity, including in rural areas, territories, and tribal lands;
paid sick leave and paid family medical leave for all workers without exception;
expanded federal funding for Medicaid; and
full funding for Indian Health Service and urban Indian health centers.
2. Provide economic relief directly to the people.
We have already seen how severe the economic impacts of COVID-19 are. In the past month more than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment and the crisis is revealing just how much of our society is living paycheck to paycheck.
We support the urgent calls to expand the social safety net by:
broadening unemployment insurance;
vastly increasing food aid programs;
extending housing assistance;
expanding childcare for working families;
relieving student debt;
halting evictions, foreclosures, and shut offs of water and electricity; and
providing larger stimulus checks to lower-income workers and the poor, who are disproportionately exposed to both COVID-19 health risks and heightened job insecurity.
3. Rescue workers and communities, not corporate executives.
Financial assistance should be directed to workers, not shareholders or corporate executives.
In addition, such funds should come with pro-worker conditions, such as:
requiring worker representation on the company’s board of directors;
company-wide enactment of a $15/hour or higher minimum wage; and
compliance with high-road labor standards such as payment of prevailing wages, use of project-labor agreements, adoption of a neutrality policy with regard to union collective bargaining, and adoption of a “ban the box” hiring policy to ensure fair employment opportunities for all.
4. Make a down payment on a regenerative economy, while preventing future crises.
The COVID-19 crisis is exposing and intensifying injustices in our society and vulnerabilities in our systems. Here at the Sierra Club we know that the climate crisis poses the same threats as COVID-19 — the health and safety of our loved ones and our communities and the stability of our economic and political systems. While this is a moment of pain and sorrow, it’s also a moment of opportunity and hope.
We can design a response that addresses our immediate health concerns and needs AND strengthens our communities and ecosystems to better prevent and respond to crisis.
A just bailout ought to include public investments to rebuild our infrastructure, including:
expanding wind and solar power;
building clean and affordable public transit;
weatherizing our buildings;
building and repairing public housing;
restoring our wetlands and forests;
expanding public services that support climate resilience; and
supporting regenerative agriculture led by family farmers.
In addition to a large, short-term stimulus to protect the health and economic security of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, we will also need a large, medium-term stimulus to counteract the economic downturn and ensure a just recovery.
This stimulus should:
create millions of good, family-sustaining jobs with high-road labor standards;
counter systemic inequities by directing investments to the working families, communities of color, and Indigenous communities who face the most economic insecurity; and
tackle the climate crisis that is compounding threats to our economy and health.
5. Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.
People should not be forced to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their health. The federal government must support states, by providing funding and technical support wherever needed, to ensure that every American can vote safely in primary and general elections.
Specific life-saving and democracy-defending measures include:
expanding vote by mail, online or automatic voter registration;
the 2020 Census must be fully supported and resourced to achieve an accurate and safe count under the new and evolving conditions; and
US Congress, state capitals and city halls should not shut down until they have amended rules to ensure continuity of governance in the case that in-person sessions are suspended.
Here’s what you can do to make the People’s Bailout a reality:
1. Write to your representative
We need all of our Congressional representatives to pledge to support a People’s Bailout! In the Bay Area we still need Congresspeople Mark DeSaulnier, Jackie Speier, Pete Aguilar, Eric Swalwell and House Speaker Pelosi to pledge their support. We urge those of you in their districts to write to them and demand their support.
2. Be a part of a mutual aid effort
Resilience comes at the community level by checking in on our neighbors and contributing to local relief efforts. See how you can provide support in your community with our mutual aid resource.