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Congress Completes Work on Fifth COVID-Relief Package, President to Sign
From:
National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO)
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

 

Congress Completes Work on Fifth COVID-Relief Package, President to Sign

The House of Representatives once again passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), following Senate passage Saturday, by a vote of 221-211. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by President Biden this week to provide a fifth round of COVID-relief to the American people.

The House vote comes after the Senate stripped a provision that would have changed the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. In addition, the Senate made minor changes to the House-passed legislation, which required another vote by the House. Unfortunately, every House Republican opposed the legislation along with Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), the lone Democrat who opposed the measure.

Of critical importance to letter carriers are two key provisions that NALC successfully lobbied for including:

  • Establishes an Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund for federal and postal employees. Most letter carriers are familiar with the COVID-19 related leave provisions from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that were in effect in 2020, but expired on Dec. 31. This bill provides up to 600 hours of paid leave for each full-time employee or a proportional equivalent for part-time employees at a capped rate of $35 per hour and no more than $1,400 per week. The bill also carries forward the same COVID-related reasons for using the leave that were included in the FFCRA but adds new reasons, such as getting vaccinated. While the FFCRA required leave be paid at only 2/3 rate for certain reasons, this bill contains no such reduction in the rate the leave is paid. A $570 million fund is included to pay for the leave.
  • Workers’ compensation language that presumes a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for postal (and federal) employees as work-related. The presumption would authorize benefits such as medical, disability and survivor benefits for workers who contracted COVID-19 in the three-year period beginning January 27, 2020 and ending January 27, 2023.

The bill also provides $1,400 in direct relief payments for individuals making under $75,000 (phased out at $80,000) and joint filers making $150,000, with $1,400 per dependent child.

We expect the Department of Labor to issue guidance on the leave and workers compensation provisions in the near future. NALC will work with the Postal Service on implementation of the leave provisions and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Philip Dine
Title: Director of Public Relations
Group: National Association of Letter Carriers(AFL-CIO)
Dateline: Washington, DC United States
Direct Phone: 202-662-2489
Main Phone: 202-393-4695
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