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  • CARES Act: Relief Agreement Includes a Suspension of the Sequestration of RRB Unemployment and Sick Benefits
    Updated On: Jan 11, 2021

    From the National Division website at bmwe.org


    CARES Act: Relief Agreement Includes a Suspension of the Sequestration of RRB Unemployment and Sick Benefits

    Published: Jan 4 2021 12:56PM

    Included in the Congressional COVID-19 Relief Agreement recently finalized is a suspension of the sequestration of RRB Unemployment and Sick Benefits. Railroaders currently out of work will receive payments in full until the Emergency Declaration for COVID-19 is lifted.

    While the sequestration suspension is temporary in this new agreement, it does afford Rail Labor time to press the issue on Capitol Hill. Lifting sequestration of RRB Unemployment and Sick Benefits has bipartisan support in the Senate, with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) co-sponsoring. We feel confident with this momentum we can move to a permanent fix in the new Congress. We appreciate Sen. Portman (R-OH), Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) and their staff for the tireless work on this important issue for all rail labor.

    Also included in the Relief Agreement is $2 billion in funding for Amtrak, which will obviously be a boon to BMWED members employed with the national passenger railroad.

    In the legislation entitled the Continued Assistance to Rail Workers Act of 2020, as outlined below, Congress essentially extended the benefits created by the CARES Act.  In addition, Congress has finally granted some relief from sequestration – though not permanent.  The legislation grants temporary relief from sequestration beginning 10 days from enactment through 30 days after the date on which the Presidential declaration of emergency for COVID terminates.  This means that railroad employees will no longer have their regular unemployment and sickness benefits reduced for sequestration during the specified time period.  In addition, the temporary relief is not retroactive to any earlier period of time.
    Similar to the CARES Act, this legislation provides for the following benefits:
    •       A recovery benefit of $600 per 2-week unemployment registration period.  The duration is for registration periods from December 26, 2020 to March 14, 2021. This is adjusted from the CARES Act $1,200 per two-week temporary unemployment benefit.

    •       Extended unemployment benefits for employees who have otherwise exhausted benefits.  These are payable for claims starting after enactment and on or before March 14, 2021. No extended benefits are payable after April 5, 2021.

    •       Waiver of the 7-day waiting period for unemployment and sickness benefits.  This was also extended to March 14, 2021. 

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