The head of the Maine AFL-CIO says the pandemic relief measure the U.S. Senate approved Wednesday night will provide relief for workers.
Executive Director Matt Schlobohm says the bill will expand unemployment compensation in a way that will benefit "many, many more workers. So, independent contractors, self-employed workers, lobstermen, folks working in hair salons, lots of people; Maine has a very high proportion of those kinds of people and they will be covered."
Schlobohm also praises the 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and the increased unemployment payments in the bill. Still, he says, there is more Congress could do to help more Maine workers get unemployment checks.
"We think they could have done more in this bill to help low-income workers and those entering the workforce," he says, "or folks without much prior work history to be able to qualify."
Schlobohm likes the other parts of the bill, including a provision that will bar companies from using emergency funding to buy back their stock.
No one know how long the current health crisis will last, Schlobohn says, but it will likely be followed by a deep recession, meaning more federal help will be needed for workers.
The U.S. House is expected to take up the measure Friday, according to NPR.