While it’s critical that those who are able stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, others have to be at work on the front lines of this crisis. They’re fighting hard to care for patients and save lives in hospitals and in nursing homes. They’re working in our supply chains, driving trucks and making sure our store shelves stay stocked. They’re making sure buses are running, and working in fire stations and police stations, and so much more.
All of their work has dignity.
And all essential workers on the job during a public health emergency should have a paycheck that reflects that.
That’s why this week, I led Senate Democrats to roll out a plan for Pandemic Premium Pay – a bonus of up to $25,000 for all the patriots putting their own health at risk to go to work for our country right now. It also includes a $15,000 bonus to recruit new workers in the midst of this crisis. This Pandemic Premium Pay must be part of anything Congress passes next.
Our plan would establish a COVID-19 Heroes Fund to pay out these bonuses. The federal government would contribute, and we also want to encourage large employers to contribute to this fund. We all need to do our part.
We know many of these workers are too often overlooked in this country – they’re taken advantage of by corporations that often don’t pay them the wages and benefits their work deserves. Now they’re the ones keeping our society together during this pandemic, allowing others to stay home.
Many workers have kids whose schools are closed or whose daycares are shut down. Bus and train schedules have been reduced in some places. For a lot of essential workers, going to work at all is harder than ever.
This premium pay recognizes that. It will make a big difference for a lot of workers and their families, and it will help us keep critical workers on the job.
We’re all in this together – and that means taking care of the workers who are taking care of everyone else.