RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As another stimulus proposal failed to pass the Senate Wednesday, some unemployed workers in North Carolina expressed their frustration as they brace to be out of work for an extended period of time.
Uschi Woronin, a flight attendant who lives in Huntersville, said she was recently furloughed after five years working for American Airlines.
Deemed essential as the pandemic began, she worries politicians in Washington are not acting quickly enough.
“A better word would have been expendable or, better yet, disposable because that’s how we are currently being treated,” she said.
Woronin singled out Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, who is up for re-election this year.
When asked by CBS 17 if he expected a stimulus deal to pass by Election Day, he said, “I hope so.”
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reportedly urged the White House not to reach an agreement with Democrats before the election.
The $500 billion bill the Senate took up Wednesday would have provided funding for federal unemployment benefits, testing, vaccine research, the Paycheck Protection Program and other provisions.
Some Senate Republicans have criticized stimulus proposals in the Democratic-controlled House as spending too much and providing too much aid to states.
“They’re trying to use this crisis to bail out two states that were in deep trouble before COVID ever existed,” said Tillis. “The only concerns I’ve expressed are businesses that are struggling. The Paycheck Protection Program helps people stay on their payrolls, stay on their healthcare. I’ve expressed a concern for some families that are struggling that need that additional economic stimulus.”
His Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Cal Cunningham, called the bill that failed Wednesday a “sham.”
In a statement, Cunningham said, “The goal of this bill is not to solve North Carolinians’ problems, but to solve Senator Tillis’ political problems. The fact is this bill cuts unemployment assistance in half, does nothing to help local governments keep essential workers like first responders and public safety workers on the payroll, leaves our public schools without the resources they need, and fails to address the ongoing need to expand access to health care to the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who have lost coverage during this crisis.”
Cunningham has supported extending the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits and prioritized the issues mentioned in his statement. He has not backed a specific stimulus bill, having criticized the Democratic-backed HEROES Act that passed the House in May and cost more than $3 trillion.
John Motsinger, a rigging technician who works behind the scenes at live events, said people in his industry haven’t had a regular paycheck since March and called attention to the strain on people’s mental health.
“I have multiple colleagues who have committed suicide this year specifically because there is absolutely no way they can recover from this,” Motsinger said. “This is an industry that has basically lost an entire year of income for all of its workers.”
On Tuesday, North Carolina reported the state’s unemployment rate increased to 7.3 percent in September. It was 6.5 percent in August. It peaked in April at 12.9 percent.