Congress

Senate Dems push hazard pay for essential workers

Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2016 reviewing post-Sandy work by the Army Corps of Engineers. Defense Dept. photo 

Senate Democrats are introducing legislation aimed at giving hazard pay to essential frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a call with reporters on April 7, Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said that they were introducing a legislative package to give essential workers a premium pay increase of up to $25,000.

Frontline federal employees would also be granted the new benefit.

"Gratitude is not enough," Murray said. "These workers deserve to be treated properly."

The fund would not only support healthcare workers but other essential workers such as grocery store workers, truck drivers and transit operators.

Schumer said that the extra pay would be equivalent to a $13 per hour raise for essential workers.

The added pay would apply from the beginning of the public health emergency through the end of the year.

The lawmakers also said they would establish an "essential worker recruitment incentive" fund in order to recruit and retain medical personnel and grant them payments of up to $15,000.

"These workers are keeping our country operational in a time of the greatest need," Casey said. "Healthcare workers and first responders deserve a special debt of gratitude."

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


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