City Council passed a resolution demanding the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Tom Wolf to reject House Bill 508, which would eliminate unemployment benefits for Philadelphians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-introduced by Councilmembers Kendra Brooks (At-Large) and Derek Green (At-Large), the resolution calls attention to the devastating impact that the “Coerce to Work” bill would have on Philadelphia’s communities hit the hardest by the coronavirus, including African-Americans, brown people, immigrants, caregivers, and poor and working class people.
As published by the City Council website, House Bill 508 would end Pennsylvania’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which provides unemployed individuals an extra $300 per week in addition to state-provided unemployment compensation.
Additionally, the legislation would end Pennsylvania’s participation in three lifesaving federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs: the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program.
The City Council statement holds that over one million residents in Pennsylvania rely on these programs for housing costs, food and medicine, and childcare. Additionally, the Commonwealth’s economy stands to lose roughly $6.7 billion in consumer spending, or roughly $6,390 per worker through September 6, 2021 should this bill pass.
Eliminating the unemployment benefits programs would have a significant impact on the financial stability of nontraditional workers such as gig workers, domestic workers, and self-run business owners, who are excluded from the traditional state unemployment program.
Not to undo the progress
“The last thing we want to do is add undo hardship to the lives of hardworking people who have already suffered tremendous loss and endured the disproportionate effects of this pandemic, in addition to disrupting the progress we’ve made in our economic recovery and that is precisely what H.B. 508 would do,” said Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large).
“For many Pennsylvanians, the aforementioned federal pandemic assistance programs have been the only lifelines keeping them afloat. They deserve to have these safety nets remain intact until we can confidently declare that our economy is stabilized,” Green added.