AFL-CIO's Trumka: Coronavirus relief package 'not perfect' but 'going to do a lot of good'

Union president says he wants broader eligibility for unemployment insurance to stick around after the pandemic subsides

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AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka expressed support for the coronavirus stimulus package moving through Congress, although he said it's "not perfect" on "Mornings with Maria" Thursday.

"But it's going to do a lot of good and we need to have it done very, very quickly," Trumka said. "There are some things not in the bill that are very important that will have to be included very quickly. It doesn't do enough with health and safety of our front line workers. It does nothing to protect U.S. pensions."

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It's now up to the House to vote on the massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus the Senate passed Wednesday.

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AFL-CIO numbers more than 12.5 million members in 55 unions, including National Nurses United, the largest registered nurses union.

In this March 17 file photo, Laurie Kuypers, a registered nurse, reaches into a car to take a nasopharyngeal swab from a patient at a drive-through COVID-19 coronavirus testing station for University of Washington Medicine patients in Seattle. (AP Ph

"[Nurses are] short on equipment, some nurses had to make their own masks, cut up gowns," Trumka said. "So we need the president to use his War Powers Act to help with manufacturing to get all of those respirators out. Not disposable ones, but reusable ones, so we can protect our frontline workers."

Trumka also discussed how he thinks the "broadening" of unemployment insurance will play out in the future.

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"I think first of all you have to look at the safety net longer term," he said. "And the broadening of unemployment insurance, hopefully if it sticks around and stays in its present form, will be good because it covers more people that weren't covered before."

The virus has caused unemployment claims to skyrocket.