Massachusetts Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Katherine Clark, and some of their colleagues, applauded the U.S. Department of Labor’s recently-released guidance confirming that striking workers are eligible for COBRA subsidies under the American Rescue Plan, a victory for striking workers nationwide.
The expanded guidance, which marks a major reversal from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, comes after Pressley, Courtney, McGovern and Clark sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, IRS Commissioner Charles Retting, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, requesting that any guidance issued to implement the American Rescue Plan clarify that workers exercising their right to strike under the National Labor Relations Act are covered by the COBRA subsidies.
The American Rescue Plan does not explicitly address the issue of striking workers, but the letter requested that any guidance issued regarding eligibility of workers to receive subsidized COBRA coverage explicitly clarify that these workers are eligible in order to ensure that striking workers are not unintentionally harmed. This decision will prevent striking workers from having to pay the extremely high cost of COBRA out of pocket, lose their providers, or become disconnected from their providers during expensive and complicated treatments in the middle of a pandemic.
“I’m glad we were able to secure these subsidies for workers in Massachusetts and across the country exercising their right to organize and collectively bargain,” Rep. Pressley said. “Health care is a human right. And when workers choose to withhold their labor to demand and secure safer working conditions, better wages or better benefits, that choice shouldn’t come at the expense of their health care.”
“This is an important victory for workers,” said Rep. Clark. “This guidance ensures that workers exercising their legal right to organize can receive the COBRA subsidies they need to maintain their health care coverage during the global pandemic. I applaud the Biden Administration for this important step to protect our workers’ rights.”
Original story here.