President of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Larry Willis spoke with America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on July 27 about the HEROES Act and how it could have been used to help frontline workers.
If the HEROES Act were passed, a payroll support program would have been established to keep workers off unemployment, Willis said.
He then discussed the need to better protect frontline transit workers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, transit drivers have not been given adequate personal protective equipment or worker protections. The HEROES Act would have provided hazard pay as compensation for working during a pandemic.
Lastly, Willis spoke about maritime workers and the difficulties they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it is difficult for the workers to get tested and quarantine while at sea because of the small amount of space on ships.
Author David Stebenne spoke about his book and how the middle class transformed America. He said the Labor Movement added pressure to provide fair wages, protections and benefits to workers and explained how the labor movement was the start of the transformation of the middle class.
According to Stebenne, the American middle class began its ascent in the 1930s, with the progressive economic policies of the era, greater business and finance regulation and increased taxation—intended to bring an end to the Great Depression.
He also discussed how the middle class began shrinking in 1968, just as social movements and political change was occurring, highlighting disparities in American society. As decades of growth built wealth and power for white men and their families; women, racial minorities and other marginalized groups were left out.
AWF Radio Podcast host Ed “Flash” Ferenc spoke about the Iowa Federation of Labor President Charles J. Wishman, proud member of the American Federation of Teachers, inviting U.S. Senator Joni Ernst to a Zoom conference call with Iowa workers to explain why the HEROES Act is not being passed.