Queens Lawmakers on the Move March 23, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Schumer On Why Dems Turn Down Emergency COVID-19 Funding

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yesterday spoke on the Senate floor to outline Democratic priorities during ongoing negotiations for Phase 3 Coronavirus response legislation. 

“The legislation has many problems. At the top of the list, it included a large corporate bailout with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight. Also very troubling, the bill had significant shortfalls of money that our hospitals, states, cities, and medical workers desperately needed. This is a public health crisis, it is inexplicable to skimp on funding to address the pandemic.

“America needs a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and public health infrastructure. The bill should include much more money for hospitals, community health centers, nursing homes, and enough funding to address the coming shortages in masks, ICU beds, ventilators, testing and personal protective equipment.

This bill needs much more money to offset the costs now being incurred by state and local governments who are propping up their health networks. We cannot reach a point where our states and localities are going bankrupt or firing public employees like teachers and first responders.

And the corporate bailout provisions remain unacceptable. If we’re going to provide assistance to certain industries, there must be more oversight, transparency, and accountability. And there must certainly be protections for workers,” said Schumer.

Queens Electeds Support Bailout For Laid Off Airport Workers

City Councilmember
Francisco Moya .
City Councilmember Donovan Richards.

A number of Queens elected officials yesterday demanded Congress include contacted airport workers in any kind of emergency financial package following the layoffs of more than 2,500 John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport airport workers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contracted workers include skycaps, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, and baggage handlers. The legislation President Trump signed that grants paid sick leave to workers does not apply to this workforce because they are employed by companies with 500 or more employees—and those companies are exempt. 

State Sen. Michael Gianaris

“It’s the hard labor of sub-contracted airport workers that has enabled airlines to generate the immense profits they have in recent years,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven). “We cannot bail them out without supporting those who have made them so profitable, who have been putting their lives on the line every time they go to work.”

“In the face of this pandemic, we should be sharing sacrifices, not cutting the ground out from hard-working New Yorkers,” said City Councilmember Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, LaGuardia Airport). “These airlines take the labor of members of our communities, which they grudgingly compensate, then insist they are the only ones affected by this pandemic.”

“We should flip the script that says corporations deserve to be showered with money while workers are stranded in the face of challenges,” said City Councilmember Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens said. “Who needs relief more, hard-working New Yorkers who live paycheck to paycheck yet sacrifice the most, or profitable corporations that pays them as little as they could get away with? New Yorkers need relief. Members of our communities need relief.”

Over 50 New York state and city elected officials signed a letter of support for contract airport workers.

Lee Lauds Queens College For Supplies Donation To Battle COVID-19

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee this weekend lauded a swiftly collected donation of various Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies by Queens College’s School of Mathematics and Sciences, including N-95 masks, 30 unopened cases of disposable nitrile gloves, disposable lab coats and bottles of 70% isopropyl alcohol.  

The swift donation is in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s public call on Friday to New Yorkers about the critical need for PPEs in anticipation of a shortage emerging from the fast-developing COVID-19 pandemic. Within hours, professors, faculty and college lab technicians (CLTs) of “the college of the future” stepped up and scoured their teaching labs for materials that could be of immediate use by the city’s medical professionals and other frontline workers.  

“A simply brilliant and swift move by the Queens College community,” said Lee. “In a crisis, every minute counts, and frontline workers have been working around the clock to stem the tide. Thank you, Queens College, for stepping up with such haste and compassion, and for this immediate assist.  We hope this inspires similar actions throughout Queens. Against COVID-19, every effort helps bend the curve and will save precious lives. We can make a bigger impact against the curve if we act together and act now.”

Meng Wants PPE and Perscription Drug Refills as Part Of Congress Emergency Funding

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced over the weekend that she has called for Congress’ third coronavirus relief package to address the serious shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the need to lift restrictions for prescription drug refills. 

“The shortages of Personal Protective Equipment is creating dire working conditions for our health care workers who are on the frontlines of combating this crisis,” said Meng. “They must have the resources they need to help them do their jobs. It also critical that patients have all the medications they need during this uncertain time which is why restrictions that limit a 30-day supply should be lifted. I hope that both of these measures will be included in the next legislative package, and I will continue to advocate for them.”

Meng’s correspondence follows a letter she sent on Friday that outlines other priorities she is seeking to include in the legislation; items that would address housing, education, small businesses, the U.S. workforce, food security, criminal justice reform and immigration enforcement, and the nation’s health care system.