Maine's labor leaders are calling on Congress to extend the $600 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit for people out of work because of COVID-19. That benefit is part of the CARES act, and it expires at the end of this month.
Floyd Pope, a factory worker who lives in Sanford, spoke Friday morning at a press conference held by the AFL-CIO of Maine. He says he fears the $600 supplement is the only thing keeping him and his three kids from becoming homeless. And he says he and other Black Americans are especially vulnerable.
“I am petrified, and I know I'm not alone. Black unemployment, actually, is rising. If Congress lets the $600 expire, and pulls the rug out from under us, we'll all have another pandemic, a pandemic of homelessness.”
A bill to extend the benefit through January of next year passed in the House in May as part of the next coronavirus stimulus package, but the Senate has not taken it up, and it does not return from its recess until July 20.