How COVID-19 bill affects bus and transportation workers

Published: March 30, 2020

On March 27, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the CARES Act that provides provisions favorable to SMART Transportation Division bus and transportation members as the nation continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The bill provides a $2 trillion relief package to the nation as it copes with COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has killed thousands of Americans.

“This bill helps to provide some short-term relief to the transportation industry that has been staggered by the coronavirus,” National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “In the event that public and private entities continue to cut workers or that employees get sick, those workers, including our members, will have extended financial protection.”

This relief bill:

  • provides $16 billion in emergency assistance to transit agencies to cover operating costs and direct expenses (e.g., cleaning supplies) at a 100 percent federal share, while preventing the Federal Transit Administration from waiving important labor protections.
  • provides the Los Angeles Urbanized Area with $1,178,517,939 divided up among all the transit systems in the region (Los Angeles, Long Beach and parts of Orange County).
  • waives the seven-day waiting period for unemployment insurance.
  • provides an enhanced unemployment benefit of an additional $600 per two-week pay period.
  • provides relief checks up to $1,200 per person, $500 per child. Click here to calculate your amount.
  • ensures private insurance plans must cover testing for COVID-19 and any future vaccine without cost sharing.
  • prohibits foreclosures on federally backed mortgage loans for 60 days, and up to 180 days of forbearance for borrowers of a federally backed mortgage loan who has experienced a financial hardship related to COVID-19.

Additional federal relief packages may be developed as the country copes with the coronavirus pandemic. Your Washington, D.C., legislative office will continue working to inform legislators and federal officials of the need of frontline transportation workers to be protected. Your union is collecting reports of employers not meeting CDC protocols to prevent COVID-19 transmission and these can be reported on the SMART-TD website.