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Politics

Maine Workers Tell Lawmakers COVID-19 Relief Package Is Urgently Needed

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JOEL PAGE
/
AP Images
Democratic Maine state lawmakers Friday called on Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package and brought in struggling Maine workers to tell their stories.

Democratic Maine state lawmakers Friday called on Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package and brought in struggling Maine workers to tell their stories.

At a virtual press conference hosted by the co-chairs of the legislature's budget and labor committees, Dan Adams of Garland, a father of three, said he has been laid off from his truck driving job and is frustrated by the lack of urgency in Washington.

"I've worked my whole life. I've paid into the system my whole life, and when I need help, I'm getting, 'whatever, dude.'"

Brittany Bugaj of Old Orchard Beach is a wedding photographer and the president of the Maine chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events. She says the continuation of federal unemployment benefits is critical as weddings and events this season have largely evaporated.

"During this time, we have been taking on smaller jobs, but it's not enough to make up for the massive losses in income we have taken during this year."

Bugaj says she has essentially lost a year's worth of income this season.

According to the progressive advocacy group, the Maine Center for Economic Policy, more than 180,000 Mainers lost household income after the emergency $600 a week federal unemployment payments expired last week.

Updated 3:50 p.m. Aug. 7, 2020