Restaurant Employees Fight for Reinstated Benefits, Some Say It's Too Dangerous to Return

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Some out-of-work restaurant employees in Dallas say it’s still too dangerous to return to their jobs because of COVID-19.

Their fight will focus on extending federal unemployment benefits.

While many restaurant workers are back on the job, others have refused.

“I think it’s a personal decision for every individual,” said Ivy Vance of the group Restaurant Workers United.

Vance and the group have spent the summer protesting for those out of work, demanding an extra $600 in federal benefits be reinstated.

The group held a mock funeral outside Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) Dallas office, saying restaurant workers risk death if forced to return to an unsafe workplace.

Protestors plan to demonstrate outside U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s North Texas office Wednesday afternoon with a “dire” prediction if Congress doesn’t act quickly to extend federal unemployment benefits. NBC 5’s Maria Guerrero reports.

And just last week, Restaurant Workers United held a mock eviction demonstration outside Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) Dallas office.

“I’ve been furloughed and I chose not to go back because they are doing dine-in service and in my opinion dine-in service is not safe for workers,” said protester Lily Rutledge of Restaurant Workers United.

The group said it welcomed recent news, including Texas being among a few states to give an extra $300 in unemployment benefits.

There is now a federal moratorium temporarily stopping evictions through the end of the year in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The eviction moratorium by executive order by Trump is obviously a big win but it’s still not enough,” Vance said. “So we’re still fighting for extended unemployment.”

Asked whether she now felt safe to return to her restaurant job, Vance said "I have to think about that. I live with my partner. He is immunocompromised so it’s definitely a decision we’re going to have to make together.”

Because there is no additional relief in sight, Vance said her group was planning another "day of action" at the end of September, “to really put the pressure on Congress to say: we’re here and we need help.”

Exact plans are still in the works.

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