SEATTLE – Following news that the national unemployment rate had hit its highest level since the Great Depression as more than 20.5 million jobs were lost in one month alone, 44 state legislators from across Washington wrote to the state’s congressional delegation urging them to support the Paycheck Guarantee Act, a proposal by US Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The legislation would end mass layoffs by getting millions of workers off of unemployment and back on payroll while keeping them connected to the health care, and preventing employers of all sizes from being forced to close permanently.
“We urge support of the Paycheck Guarantee Act to allow workers to stay on their employer’s payrolls while uplifting small businesses that are otherwise facing permanent closure,” said the letter authored by 44 legislators representing Washington families across the state. “The Paycheck Guarantee Act demonstrates a commitment to our workers and small businesses alike, and would ensure that our economy is ready to open as soon as it is safe and healthy to do so&As state legislators in Washington, we urge your support of this necessary act.”
“As the unemployment rate continues to rise throughout the country, I’ve heard from workers and small businesses across Washington who tell me they need an urgent solution that matches the scale of this devastating and unprecedented crisis,” said Rep. Jayapal. “As our state senators and state representatives from communities throughout Washington make clear in their letter, the Paycheck Guarantee Act is the quickest, most direct way to stop mass unemployment, keep money in workers’ pockets, and ensure that businesses of all sizes aren’t forced to shutter permanently.”
“Workers and businesses need direct assistance immediately,” said state Sen. Joe Nguyen, who led the Washington legislators’ letter to Congress. “We are working at the state level to overcome this emergency, but federal assistance like the Paycheck Guarantee Act would allow residents of our communities to keep their incomes while better preparing Washington to move forward as quickly as possible.”
The state legislators delivered their letter just days after the national unemployment rate hit nearly 15%, a record level not seen since the Great Depression. This follows reports of more than 33 million people filing for unemployment in seven weeks and 20.5 million jobs being lost in April alone. Jayapal’s Paycheck Guarantee Act creates a streamlined program to provide a three-month federal guarantee for worker salaries of up to $90,000 to ensure that employers of all sizes keep workers on the payroll and continue to provide employer-sponsored benefits, including health care. Additionally, it gets businesses critical resources and helps covers operating expenses, like rent, so they aren’t forced to close. It does all of this while covering more people for a longer period of time and for less money than the United States has already spent on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). It’s estimated that the Paycheck Guarantee Act would benefit more than 36 million workers.
Proven to be highly successful in other parts of the world – from European countries like Germany to Asian countries like Singapore and South Korea – the plan is endorsed not only by more than 50 members of Congress from across the ideological spectrum but also Nobel Prize-winning economists, business owners, labor leaders, and national groups across America and across Washington state. The mayors of Edmonds and Shoreline have also endorsed the proposal in addition to the Burien City Council.
Other groups supporting the plan include Americans for Financial Reform; the American Federation of Teachers; AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; the Asian Counseling and Referral Service; the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Washington; the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO; CAIR Washington; the Center for American Progress; the Center for Economic Policy Research; the Center for Popular Democracy/CDP Action; Climate Justice Alliance; Color of Change; Community Change Action; the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition; the Economic Policy Institute; the GSBA: Washington’s LGBTQ Chamber; Indivisible; the International Association of Machinists; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Community Health Services; the Main Street Alliance; MoveOn; the National Domestic Workers Alliance; the National Education Association; the Pacific Northwest Ballet; People’s Action; the Seattle Aquarium; the Seattle Children’s Theatre; SEIU; the Sierra Club; UAW Western States; UNITE HERE; the Woodland Park Zoo; 350 Seattle; and other organizations.
The letter follows:
To: The Honorable Patty Murray, US Senator; The Honorable Maria Cantwell, US Senator; The Honorable Suzan DelBene, US Representative, 1st District; The Honorable Rick Larsen, US Representative, 2nd District; The Honorable Jaime Herrera Beutler, US Representative, 3rd District; The Honorable Dan Newhouse, US Representative, 4th District; The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers, US Representative, 5th District; The Honorable Derek Kilmer, US Representative, 6th District; The Honorable Pramila Jayapal, US Representative, 7th District; The Honorable Kim Schrier, US Representative, 8th District; The Honorable Adam Smith, US Representative, 9th District; The Honorable Denny Heck, US Representative, 10th District
Re: Support for the Paycheck Guarantee Act
May 11, 2020
Dear members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation,
We want to first thank you for fighting for our state at the federal level during these unprecedented times. Your advocacy for resources to Washington has shaped the state response considerably. At the same time, thousands of Washingtonians have been affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19 and are in need of further assistance.
As state legislators, we have heard from countless constituents who have lost their income and are struggling to maintain roofs over their heads along with enough food for their households. During a crisis like this, where stable housing is needed to prevent the further spread of disease, we must use our elected positions to elevate these voices and provide them with as much assistance as possible. While Washington’s Employment Security Department is facing this issue head on, we ask that you provide further assistance for workers who are struggling amidst business closures.
Maintaining business restrictions will protect our state from another spike in infections, but it should not mean that thousands of Washingtonians must struggle to get by. We urge support of the Paycheck Guarantee Act, a proposal by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, to allow workers to stay on their employer’s payrolls while uplifting small businesses that are otherwise facing permanent closure. Direct payroll assistance at the federal level would ease the tremendous stress on our unemployment system and maintain existing employee-employer relationships, so that businesses are better positioned to reopen when the time comes.
The Paycheck Guarantee Act demonstrates a commitment to our workers and small businesses alike, and would ensure that our economy is ready to open as soon as it is safe and healthy to do so. Broad support throughout the United States, along with experiences in other countries, illustrate the positive and dramatic impact that a paycheck guarantee can make in restarting an economy.
We are living in uncertain times. Our workers and small businesses deserve consideration and protection in place of the steadily increasing stress that comes with struggling to get by. As state legislators in Washington, we urge your support of this necessary act.
Sen. Joe Nguyen, 34th LD; Rep. Mari Leavitt, 28th LD; Sen. Annette Cleveland, 49th LD; Rep. June Robinson, 38th LD; Rep. Nicole Macri, 43rd LD; Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, 34th LD; Rep. Strom Peterson, 21st LD; Rep. Frank Chopp, 43rd LD; Rep. Eileen Cody, 34th LD; Rep. Debra Lekanoff, 40th LD; Rep. Christine Kilduff, 28th LD; Sen. Andy Billig, 3rd LD; Rep. Alex Ramel, 40th LD; Rep. Vandana Slatter, 48th LD; Sen. Manka Dhingra, 45th LD; Sen. Patty Kuderer, 48th LD; Sen. Marko Liias, 21st LD; Rep. Gerry Pollet, 46th LD; Sen. Claire Wilson, 30th LD; Sen. Derek Stanford, 1st LD; Rep. Debra Entenman, 47th LD; Rep. Tana Senn, 41st LD; Sen. David Frockt, 46th LD; Sen. Liz Lovelett, 40th LD; Sen. Mona Das, 47th LD; Rep. Mia Gregerson, 33rd LD; Sen. Bob Hasegawa, 11th LD; Rep. Jared Mead, 44th LD; Rep. Christine Rolfes, 23rd LD; Rep. Jesse Johnson, 30th LD; Rep. Steve Bergquist, 11th LD; Rep. Steve Kirby, 29th LD; Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, 21st LD; Rep. Roger Goodman, 45th LD; Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, 37th LD; Rep. John Lovick, 44th LD; Rep. Mike Sells, 38th LD; Rep. Lauren Davis, 32nd LD; Rep. Drew Hansen, 23rd LD; Rep. Amy Walen, 48th LD; Rep. My-Linh Thai, 41st LD; Rep. Eric Pettigrew, 37th LD; Rep. Beth Doglio, 22nd LD; Rep. Zack Hudgins, 11th LD
Courtesy of Rep. Pramila Jayapal