Below is a summary of the relevant provisions to TCU members in the recently enacted Covid Relief and FY2021 Appropriations bill (H.R. 133):
The bill provides for one-time $600 checks for individuals ($1200 for married joint-filers), as well as $600 per dependent child. Similar to the CARES Act, the checks begin to phase out for those whose incomes are above $75,000/yr ($150k/yr for joint-filers). However, the income level at which checks are completely phased out has been reduced to $87k/yr ($174k/yr for joint-filers).
Railroad Unemployment Insurance
- Expansion – The bill renews the CARES Act expansion of unemployment benefits at $600 per registration period (every two weeks), for registration periods beginning after December 26th, 2020 and on or before March 14th, 2021.
- Extension – The bill provides up to 11 additional weeks of unemployment benefits under the RUIA for qualified railroaders.
- Sequestration – The bill temporarily waives the sequestration-imposed reduction of benefits during the national health emergency period, and for 30 days after.
- Waiver of Waiting Period – The bill extends the waiver of the 7-day waiting period in order to file for RUI benefits.
State Unemployment Insurance (for non-railroad TCU members)
- Expansion and Extension – The bill renews the CARES Act expansion and extension of supplemental unemployment benefits at $300/week as of December 26th, 2020 through March 14th, 2021.
- $14 billion in Funding – The COVID relief bill provides $14 billion for operating assistance to transit agencies. Importantly, the funding allotments will be based on agencies’ operating expenses (versus the capital expenses formula previously used under the CARES Act). This should provide more equitable distribution of funding to agencies that desperately need it, like the MTA, Metra, LA Metro and others.
- Money for Contract Operators of Transit Authorities – TCU was also successful in securing a provision that ensures that funding provided to State Transportation Departments for transit assistance can flow down to the transit contractors. This is important for many of our members, including those at Keolis (MBCR) or Caltrain.
Amtrak Funding, Jobs and Service Protections
- Funding – $3 billion total – The COVID relief section of the bill provides $1 billion to Amtrak to support its ongoing operations across business lines. The bill also included FY21 appropriations which provided Amtrak with its annual $2 billion in federal grants.
- Job Protections – As of Dec. 27th, Amtrak is prohibited from furloughing any additional employees as a result of responding to COVID. The protections last until the $1 billion in COVID relief is expended, which is estimated to be until mid- to late-March. Amtrak is also prohibited from replacing any currently-furloughed workers with contractors if the furlough occurred after March 1st, 2020.
- Service – Amtrak is prohibited from reducing long-distance rail service beyond current levels (i.e. 3x a week).
- [Click HERE to view section of COVID relief on Amtrak furloughs and service protections]
TCU’s Legislative Department fought hard to get these provisions as strong as possible for our members. Please note that the bill is largely meant to be a short-term relief through March, 2021, which is why funding totals are lower than requested both by TCU and Amtrak. Nevertheless, TCU believes this is a strong win for our members who are relying on their jobs or RUI benefits to get through these tough times.
If any of our Local Lodge officers or members have questions, please feel free to reach out directly to TCU’s Legislative Department at MNPL@tcunion.org.
From all of us at TCU, we wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year.