Sherrod Brown and Democrats Want Hazard Pay for Essential Workers Included in Next Stimulus Bill

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ERIC SANDY/SCENE
  • ERIC SANDY/SCENE

Whenever Congress gets around to the next pandemic stimulus bill, which should be sooner rather than later, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and other Democrats want essential workers  — those who are continuing to make supply chains move and taking care of patients and driving our buses and shopping for your groceries and ringing you out at the grocery store and pharmacy and generally having to go out into the world while most of the world stays at home — to be compensated appropriately for the dangers they have taken on.

“Health care workers and all individuals who continue to report to work during this pandemic are frontline employees who deserve gratitude, protection, and support," Senator Brown wrote in a March 31 letter to President Trump. "I am glad that your Administration recognizes the risks they face and sacrifices they make during this health emergency. I look forward to working with you to ensure employers provide the well-deserved Pandemic Premium Pay necessary to adequately compensate their frontline workers. And I urge you to immediately issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect these workers, their families, and the public from further spread of the coronavirus."



In a call with national reporters yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer elaborated on the plans Democrats are now eyeing: Up to $25,000 a year for those making below $200,000 by adding $13 an hour to wages that would date back to the start of the coronavirus spread.

“We are asking these workers to take on great risk. They should be compensated for it,” Schumer said, describing what he called the Heroes Fund. “For these Americans, working at home is not an option. Social distancing is not an option. They are in the line of fire day in and day out.”



The plan, which Dems say the federal government would pay for, although specifics totals were not available, would also offer $15,000 one-time payments to new hires in healthcare and emergency response.

Grocery stores such as Kroeger and Giant Eagle have either boosted employee wages or offered pandemic bonuses to workers who are depended upon to staff warehouses and counters and registers during the pandemic. Others have not, however. 

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