COVID-19 Resources & Information: May 22 + A Legislative Note

After reading through nearly 80 pages of bills that the Tennessee House of Representatives has calendared for next week, it would be easy to think that the world wasn't in the midst of a pandemic. As we mentioned last week, there is still a lot that the public, lobbyists, and even the media don't know because of lawmakers' inability to agree on what the rest of session will look like. This Twitter thread is a very good summary of what we could experience for possibly the next six weeks. From harmful bills that have been dubbed a "Slate of Hate," to absolutely pointless legislation, the priorities of the lower chamber are on full display. While working families have suffered endlessly over the past 10 weeks, legislators seem more concerned with furthering their personal agendas at the expense of their constituents' health, safety, and economic security. To the Senate's credit, they are still planning to keep their work focused on budget-related bills and other essential matters; whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen. 

In the endless list of legislation that has been put on notice for next week, one item that is not included is SJR 648 (aka The "Kelsey Amendment"), which would enshrine Tennessee's Right to Work law in the state constitution. Way back on March 11th, this resolution was heard in the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee before being sent to a special "Constitutional Amendment" calendar. Given how hectic the remainder of session will likely be, this could pop up at any moment and we will be ready to activate. As we gain a better sense of how things may play out, we will let you know as soon as we learn any new information. If needed, our legislative updates will resume as well. Regardless, please keep a close eye on these updates, your inboxes, and social media for any important legislative information, especially related to this resolution. 

On Wednesday, June 3rd, the AFL-CIO is organizing a nationwide Day of Action that calls upon our elected leaders to adopt America's Five Economic Essentials. These guiding principles are not only practical, but they are also provide a blueprint for putting our country on the path to recovery. As part of this Day of Action, local and state bodies have been tasked with organizing events that draw attention to a heightened need for action. Additional details will follow over the coming days and in next week's update. 

For a bit of levity in these difficult times, our good friends Michael and Nell will be performing their well-known Joe Hill Road Show live on YouTube next Saturday (May 30th) at 8:00 p.m. CT. If you have not had the opportunity to see the show, it consists of oral history, live music and dozens of historical images. After the performance, there will be a discussion based off of chat comments about the relevance of this history to what is going on today. We hope that you will tune in for this special show!         

Once again, an updated list of resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic are listed below. It's truly amazing how much this list has grown and evolved over the past couple of months, covering such a broad range of needs and services. We hope that this information continues to be helpful in providing some guidance and clarity to our brothers and sisters throughout the state.   
 
NEW LINKS

  • Compiled by the national AFL-CIO, this document provides a summary of where things stand for immigrant workers across a range of issue areas in terms of the federal COVID-19 response. As you'll notice, the immigrant community faces many gaps when it comes to coronavirus relief that is offered to working families. 
PREVIOUS LINKS
 
  • Available as a confidential resource on our new website, this form allows any Tennessean (whether they are a union member or not) to report an unsafe worksite. Governor Bill Lee's "Tennessee Pledge" does not go nearly far enough to provide guidance for businesses or resources for employees to keep them safe at work during this time. 
  • A comprehensive, detailed resource compiled by both the national AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), this page provides many helpful links for parents and families with school-age children. Intended to support what teachers and school districts have already provided, these lessons and tools can be used by students in pre-K through 12th grade. Separate links are also included for supporting students with disabilities, English language learners, and how to support grieving students.     
  • A Better Balance has compiled this very helpful list of common, frequently asked questions regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act. The organization also has a fact sheet about both laws and a page that focuses on COVID-19 and workplace rights during this pandemic.
  • A resource that is always available to union members and their families, our Members' Assistance Program provides confidential counseling services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During this time, we know that many more of our brothers and sisters are likely in need of these resources. To learn more about the program or if you or someone you know needs help, please contact Gary Reed at (615) 651-0676.  
  • This program provides financial assistance to labor employees who are experiencing a current emergency due to changes that have affected their income over the last 90 days. 
  • A new resource from the national AFL-CIO, this link lets you explore the resources, programs, and benefits that are available by simply clicking on a specific state.
  • Tennessee House Democrats have created a very helpful and useful graphic to reference when applying for unemployment benefits. 
  • This guide has been compiled by the Speaker of the House's office and outlines the three pieces of legislation that Congress has already passed and explains what each of them means for working families. 
  • If you have not done so already, we encourage you to visit the AFL-CIO's homepage and browse through the countless resources and other guidance that is available to union members. 
  • This link provides a step-by-step description of how to file for unemployment benefits through the Jobs4TN app.
  • To contribute directly to the response fund, please click on the link above. All funds will go to local non-profits providing essential services for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. If you'd like to volunteer or donate food/supplies, please click here. 
  • This document from the national AFL-CIO includes tips on managing your finances, looking for a new job, and much more. 
-Union Plus COVID-19 Updates
  • Union Plus has compiled a list of programs that include credit counseling, personal loans, hardship assistance, and more.
  • A number of unions, guilds and affiliated non-profits have established relief funds for workers devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your donation to any of the funds listed within the link will go directly to support workers. 
  • With schools throughout the state now scheduled to be closed through April 24th, Metro Nashville Public Schools will be providing breakfast and lunch to children in the district. This information (pickup locations, etc.) will be updated frequently. If other school districts throughout the state are offering similar programs, please let us know so that we can include those links as well. 
  • There are additional links within this article that will allow you to apply directly for unemployment insurance benefits with the Tennessee Department of Labor. This is a breakdown of frequently asked questions and other helpful information. If you lost your job as a result of the March 3rd tornado, you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits from the federal government. 
  • This is a joint effort from Mayor John Cooper's office and the United Way of Greater Nashville to assist workers whose income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU Local 205 President and TN AFL-CIO Executive Board member Brad Rayson is on the advisory committee. 
  • Organized by the Chattanooga Area Central Labor Council, this link allows you to make a donation to our brothers and sisters with AFM Local 80 and IATSE Local 140 in the Scenic City who have lost work as a result of COVID-19. The CALC will use the funds to provide pre-paid grocery gift cards so that impacted workers can focus on securing rent, utilities and other financial needs.