Writing in USA Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took a stand for American workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, saying that any bailout must put their needs first.
“That means making sure that any federal bailout of giant corporations directly helps their employees, fuels a grassroots recovery and ensures that those big companies make serious, long-term reforms that reduce the odds they’re back before taxpayers again looking for another bailout,” she wrote.
But the Trump administration’s proposed $1 trillion stimulus plan, among other proposals, is largely “inadequate” because they lack protections for workers and taxpayers, she noted, pointing out that big business––such as airline CEOs––stand to benefit from the bailout.
“These proposals appear to be yet another no-strings-attached bailout for failed CEOs and simply aren’t enough to meet the moment,” she said. “I understand that major portions of the American economy have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and make no mistake: the federal government must mount a robust response. Now is the time to come together and make sure that response reaches workers directly. ”
Noting that companies that “poured billions of dollars into stock buybacks and executive pay during good times” have made threats to layoff their workers, Warren again made an example of airlines, saying they spent the majority of their profits over the last decade on stock buybacks, in turn hurting American workers.
Warren proposed that Congress set certain conditions on any relief funds companies receive. Companies should maintain payrolls and use federal funds to keep people working; provide a $15 an hour minimum wage; be banned from making stock buybacks; not pay out dividends or executive bonuses while receive federal funds and for three years thereafter; provide at least one seat to workers on their board of directors with the stipulation that they must offer more if they take additional bailouts; not touch collective bargaining agreements with workers; receive shareholder and board approval for all political spending, and require all CEOs to certify that their companies are following these rules lest they face criminal penalties for “filing false certifications.”
These criminal penalties could be upheld by a strong oversight body created by Congress, Warren suggested.
“The millions of families who will be affected by the coronavirus crisis cannot afford for Congress to only provide relief for big banks and their executives. We must insist that any bailout legislation contain basic guarantees to ensure that workers and working families get the help they need,” she concluded.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of at least 256 Americans according to the most recent tally, and the virus has sent shockwaves through the economy as businesses have been forced to shutter and life grinds to a halt. 281,000 Americans filed unemployment claims last week. Economists for Goldman Sachs predicted that 2.25 million Americans filed for unemployment this week.
The effects are likely to be felt for quite some time and are bound to change the world permanently, say analysts, citing the scale of a crisis that threatens to keep Americans homebound for a possible 18-month period while following social distancing protocols.