March 20, 2020

USA Today: Any Coronavirus bailout must put workers first

"Any taxpayer money we provide to these companies must go directly to workers, and must come with strings attached to make sure companies don't repeat the mistakes of the past."

As Congress responds to the coronavirus emergency, the financial security of workers and their families should be our first priority. That means making sure that any federal bailout of giant corporations directly helps their employees, fuels a grassroots recovery and ensures that those big companies make serious, long-term reforms that reduce the odds they're back before taxpayers again looking for another bailout.

But the Trump administration's current proposals -- and the one released by Senate Republicans this week -- are sorely inadequate because they contain none of these protections for workers and taxpayers. All they require are vague limits -- not elimination, but merely "limits" -- on airline executives' pay increases. These proposals appear to be yet another no-strings-attached bailout for failed CEOs and simply aren't enough to meet the moment. 


I've proposed several conditions on any relief money for big companies to ensure it benefits American workers and taxpayers. These companies must: 

  • Maintain payrolls and use federal funds to keep people working;
  • Provide a $15 an hour minimum wage;
  • Not engage in stock buybacks permanently;
  • Not pay out dividends or executive bonuses while they receive federal funds and for three years thereafter;
  • Provide at least one seat to workers on their board of directors - or more if they take bigger bailouts;
  • Leave collective bargaining agreements with workers in place;
  • Get shareholder and board approval for all political spending; and
  • Require that CEOs certify that their companies are complying with these rules and face criminal penalties for filing false certifications.

To make sure these conditions are met, Congress must create a strong oversight body to monitor how companies are using taxpayer dollars and investigate violations. Companies and executives should face criminal penalties and clawbacks if they violate these conditions.


The millions of families who will be affected by the coronavirus crisis cannot afford for Congress to only provide relief for big banks and their executives. We must insist that any bailout legislation contain basic guarantees to ensure that workers and working families get the help they need.

Read the full op-ed on the USA Today website here

By:  Senator Elizabeth Warren
Source: USA Today