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.
So far, there has been a breakdown in negotiations among lawmakers.
“I work in a sushi restaurant in Uptown Dallas,” said Linh Bui. “I’m on temporary furlough right now.”
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Bui said they haven't felt safe enough to return to work since March, especially after hearing about COVID-19 cases among a few coworkers.
Bui has been making ends meet thanks to an additional $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits, which have now ended.
“Without it, I would probably lose the place I’m renting. I would lose probably my car,” Bui said.
Bui is joining Restaurant Workers United in demanding the expired benefits continue.
“We are going to be holding a vigil for the unnamed worker who will risk premature death if they don’t extend these unemployment benefits,” said Ivy Vance of Restaurant Workers United.
The vigil will feature a coffin and flowers, Vance said, to show how "dire" the situation is.
A similar demonstration was held in Denver.
“Many of the workers that we’ve talked to through the petition, I’ve heard them say if I didn’t get that $600 in April, I would’ve lost my house,” Bui said. “That really dovetails into the whole eviction crisis that we’re about to walk into as well.”
The group is targeting Cruz with this peaceful protest after his appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation program discussing the additional money and struggling business owners in Texas.
“They’re calling their waiters and waitresses back. They’re calling their busboys and they won’t come back and of course they won’t because the federal government is paying them in some instances twice as much money to stay home,” Cruz said. “For 68% of people receiving it [extra unemployment benefits] right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job.”
Vance argued Cruz isn’t "understanding exactly the crisis at hand."
“Although some people are earning more than they did on unemployment, this is also a pay cut for a lot of service industry folks,” Vance said. “It’s not, 'Do I go back to my low-paying job or collect more unemployment?' It’s, 'Do I go back to my low-paying job and risk infecting the rest of my family?'"
Bui said workers were demanding an increase in safety measures at workplaces, including mandatory testing every two weeks and contact tracing.
The Senator's office issued the following statement to NBC 5.
Cruz "is urging his colleagues in the Senate to focus on a long-term recovery bill the helps Americans safely get back to work. He believes the existing proposals, including those that continue the expanded unemployment program, will only deepen and further prolong the economic devastation we’re seeing. That’s why Sen. Cruz is working on alternative legislation that is specifically designed to jumpstart our economy again, help small business re-open their doors and rehire their employees, and help kids safely return to school."