TRANSCRIPT: On Press Call With AFSCME, Leader Schumer Calls For Funding For State And Local Government Workers To Continue Providing Essential Services, Rebukes McConnell’s Attempt To Bankrupt States, Gut Needed Worker Protections, And Empower CorporationsApril 28, 2020
Brooklyn, N.Y. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer joined a press call hosted by AFSCME President Lee Saunders and public service workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus response, expressing the need for additional funding for state and local governments that provide essential services and rebuking Leader McConnell’s suggestions that states declare bankruptcy and Leader McConnell’s attempts to put corporations ahead of workers. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
Thank you, Lee—you are one of the greatest leaders that working people have had in this country, and your steadfastness—we've known each other for decades - to defend the men and women who work in America, who work for our state, county, municipal governments, our federal government, and so many other workers is just breathtaking and wonderful.
I want to thank our four participants—one of whom, Jared is from New York, he’s from Dobbs Ferry—and every one of the workers, the government workers who work so hard. These are people who care, who make our country tick. They may not be feeling well one morning in a typical day, not even during coronavirus, but they go to work, because of their dedication. And all too often, too many have picked on government workers so unfairly, because we know how important they are.
I want to thank Speaker Pelosi—there is no one who has stood up stronger for both working people in general and our government workers than she has, and she and I stand shoulder to shoulder. We are going to make sure, absolutely sure, that a robust state and local appropriation is madeCARES 2 bill. We need it, our country needs it, everyone needs it.
So it's amazing, with how important this is, and all the people that bothand Nancy mentioned, who are doing such vital jobs for our country, that Leader McConnell would show how out of touch he is, when he suggested that we should let the states that are being crushed by the coronavirus go bankrupt.
Now, bankruptcy is not an abstract concept when it comes to states and cities. And no one understands this better than Lee Saunders and AFSCME. What Leader McConnell is suggesting would lead to hundreds of thousands—hundreds of thousands—of vital state and local government employees—nurses and health workers, corrections officers, sanitation workers, and so many others – being fired or furloughed. What did they do, Leader McConnell? Why are you suggesting that they should lose their jobs? He is saying—and now, he's come up with a new little subterfuge—he's saying that average folks, hardworking people, like the people we just mentioned, don’t deserve the same help as big businesses get. Well, he’s wrong.
You, you the people who are represented bymake sure the unemployment checks are going out, and keep your communities running, even during a global pandemic.
You are showing up at work, putting your health at risk, to support the American people. Are we really going to thank you with pink slips? No way. Not on my watch. Not on Speaker Pelosi’s watch. Not on Lee's watch.
During a health care crisis, unfortunately, Leader McConnell is playing politics and talking about red and blue states. This isn’t about politics, it’s about people—people’s jobs, people's families, people's communities.
Day and night, workers like the ones we're going to hear from remain on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. But this public health crisis is putting a huge strain on state and local government budgets, and some have started to impose layoffs and furloughs.
Well, Congress should not abandon any workers, especially public service workers.