May 15, 2020

Chicago Federation of Labor Statement on Passage of HEROES Act by U.S. House


May 15, 2020

Contacts: Jake Lewis




CFL President Reiter: Passage marks “another important step forward” for Chicago’s workers


CHICAGO – Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter released the following statement in response to the passage of the Heroes Act by the U.S. House of Representatives:


“Today’s vote marks another important step forward in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this expansive legislation and providing desperately needed relief for working families. We are especially proud to see the inclusion of COBRA subsidies in this bill, an idea that has its roots right here in Chicago. Laid off or furloughed workers should not have to choose between paying their rent and paying for health insurance, especially in the middle of a public health emergency. Subsidizing COBRA payments is the most efficient way to ensure impacted workers maintain critical health coverage until this emergency passes.


“We are also encouraged to see support for the state and local governments that are working tirelessly right now to provide desperately needed services in an extremely difficult environment. Our public service workers deserve our thanks and support, and the Heroes Act will provide the resources they need to keep our communities running.


”The Senate and President must act immediately to enact this bill. The lives and livelihoods of millions of working families depend on it.”




BACKGROUND: The Chicago Federation of Labor was among the first organizations to identify and lift up the need for COBRA subsidies as a policy response to the pandemic. Many workers receive health insurance coverage through their employer. If the worker is laid off, furloughed, or sees a reduction in hours, that employer-based health coverage is jeopardized. Most workers can then pay for COBRA coverage to continue their health insurance, but often COBRA expenses are significant, especially for a worker who is seeing their livelihood threatened. The HEROES Act subsidizes this COBRA coverage for workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at 100% until January 31, 2021. The CFL worked with state and federal partners to bring the idea to Congress and has encouraged policymakers to include the subsidies in COVID-19 response bills.


The Chicago Federation of Labor is the third-largest central labor council of the AFL-CIO representing nearly 300 unions and labor organizations comprised of half a million union members in Chicago and Cook County.