Principles for a People's Bailout and a Just Recovery from COVID-19


People’s Action is one of the original sponsors of the People’s Bailout principles, which include:

  • Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions
  • Economic relief must be provided directly to the people
  • Rescue workers, communities and small business owners, not corporate executives
  • Make a down payment on a regenerative economy while preventing future crises
  • Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

We also urge our elected officials to adhere to the following additional principles:

  • Prioritize women, Black, brown, indigenous, undocumented, LGBTQ+, and low-income people, the elderly, people with disabilities, and communities who are hurt first and worst.
  • Invest in the global cooperation we need to address the global pandemic

Health is the top priority, for all people, with no exceptions.

We support the calls of community leaders, public health organizations, unions, and others for free and accessible testing, treatment, and protective equipment; expanded hospital capacity, including in rural areas, territories, and tribal lands; paid sick leave and paid family medical leave for all workers without exception; expanded federal funding for Medicaid; and full funding for Indian Health Service and urban Indian health centers.

Critically, the government must ensure such health protections cover all people, including low-wage workers, health workers, independent contractors, family farmers, Black and Latinx communities, undocumented immigrants, Indigenous peoples, people who are incarcerated, people who are homeless or housing insecure, and others likely to be hit first and worst by COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

Economic relief must be provided directly to the people.

We support the urgent calls to expand the social safety net by broadening unemployment insurance, vastly increasing food aid programs, extending housing assistance, expanding childcare for working families, relieving student debt, and halting evictions, foreclosures, and shut offs of water and electricity. As with expanded public health measures, these economic measures must be implemented to ensure coverage of workers and communities likely to be hit first and worst by COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

In addition, to counteract the economic downturn, the federal government should immediately direct sizable cash payments to every person. Larger and longer term payments should be made to Black people, to lower-income workers and the poor, who are disproportionately exposed to both COVID-19 health risks and heightened job insecurity. These payments should be made swiftly and regularly throughout the duration of the economic recession.

Rescue workers, communities and small businesses, not corporate executives.

Any financial assistance directed at specific industries must be channeled to workers and small businesses, prioritizing those with the greatest need, not shareholders or corporate executives. Specifically, any federal loans must be used to maintain payroll and benefits, not executive bonuses or stock buybacks.

In addition, such funds should come with pro-worker conditions, such as requiring worker representation on the company’s board of directors, company-wide enactment of a $15/hour or higher minimum wage, and compliance with high-road labor standards such as payment of prevailing wages, use of project-labor agreements, adoption of a neutrality policy with regard to union collective bargaining, and adoption of a “ban the box” hiring policy to ensure fair employment opportunities for all.

Make a down payment on a regenerative economy while preventing future crises.

While we urgently need a large, short-term stimulus to protect the health and economic security of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative that policymakers also plan for a large, medium-term stimulus to counteract the economic downturn and ensure a just recovery. This stimulus should create millions of good, family-sustaining jobs with high-road labor standards; counter systemic inequities by directing long term and sustainable investments to the working families, Black communities and other communities of color, and Indigenous communities who face the most economic insecurity; and tackle the climate crisis that is compounding threats to our economy and health.

All three goals can be achieved simultaneously with public investments to rebuild our infrastructure, replace lead pipes, expand wind and solar power, build clean and affordable public transit, weatherize our buildings, build and repair public housing, manufacture more clean energy goods, restore our wetlands and forests, expand public services that support climate resilience, and support regenerative agriculture led by family farmers. This program should prioritize Black farmers and farmers of color who have been historically and disproportionately been excluded from land access and farming resources federally and locally. Critically, stimulus packages should include conditions for industries to implement high-road labor standards, workforce development, accessible trades programs that prioritize the enrollment of public school students and reductions in climate emissions and toxic pollution. The response to one existential crisis must not fuel another.

Protect our democratic process while protecting each other.

People must not be forced to choose between exercising their rights as citizens and protecting public health. The federal government must support states, by providing funding and technical support wherever needed, to ensure that every American can vote safely in primary and general elections.

Specific life-saving and democracy-defending measures include expanding vote by mail, online or automatic voter registration, among others. The 2020 Census must be fully supported and resourced to achieve an accurate and safe count under the new and evolving conditions. U.S. Congress, state capitals and city halls should not shut down until they have amended rules to ensure continuity of governance in the case that in-person sessions are suspended.

Prioritize women, Black, brown, indigenous, undocumented, LGBTQ+, and low-income people, the elderly, people with disabilities, and communities who are hurt first and worst.

Structural racism, xenophobia and America’s massive economic inequality leave particular communities especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Universal programs meant to help all Americans must address the disparities these communities face and be easily accessible. The health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 moment are more extreme on people and communities that have long-suffered the negative impact of structural racism - resultant entrenched inequalities in resources, health, and access to care….as well as disproportionate representation on the frontlines of the struggle, continuing to work and be exposed while others are told to stay at home.

We have to work to repair the structural indignities of our society and ensure that the most vulnerable are protected. It is clear now more than ever that we are all as vulnerable as the most vulnerable in this society. This means focusing on inclusivity of all in the support programs that we create and benefits we provide - regardless of immigrant status. It means finding housing for the homeless. It means putting a halt on ICE detentions and deportations. It means a mass release of people who are being held in jails and detention centers. It means recognizing farm workers, domestic workers, grocery workers, warehouse and delivery workers as essential workers and providing them with both personal protective equipment and access to the array of benefits we create. It means ensuring that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and low-income people are supported first and not last in these moments.

Invest in the global cooperation we need to address the global pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes clear the interdependence of all people in the US and throughout our global society: none of us is safe unless all of us are safe. International cooperation is necessary to meet immediate public health needs, both in the US and globally, and is also essential if we are to be ready for any future pandemics as well as the ongoing and worsening global climate crisis.

The federal government must work with all other countries to coordinate the production and distribution of urgently needed medical supplies to the US and worldwide. Funding for international programs that protect public health should be fully funded, not cut, with a focus on supporting countries in the Global South with extremely vulnerable healthcare infrastructure without strings attached. Additional resources should be provided to conduct international research into treatments and a vaccine. We need international agreements to eliminate the use of patents and other mechanisms to profiteer off critical medicines and limit access to low-income countries and communities. Greater collaboration between the US and China, the world’s top two economies, is particularly urgent and important. Elected officials should denounce anti-Asian racism and oppose efforts to blame the virus on China and instead call for global solidarity and cooperation to solve the crisis.