Rep. Grijalva Leads 41 Members of Congress in Urging Hazard Pay and Protections for Essential Workers to Help Address COVID-19 Impact Disparities

TUCSON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva led 41 Members of Congress in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy supporting hazard pay and required workplace protections for essential frontline blue-collar workers keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. The lawmakers urged Pelosi and McCarthy to require that employers protect workers on the job while providing them with hazard pay in future COVID-19 legislation.

The lawmakers wrote:

“As the COVID-19 crisis expands so do obvious distinctions between socio-economic classes. While many white-collar professionals can follow social distancing guidelines, essential bluecollar workers are tasked with holding our country together by delivering the hands-on vital services we need to survive. We ask that the next COVID-19 bill require employers take action to protect workers and include premium pay to supplement low-income workers and to ensure this crisis doesn’t further exacerbate class inequalities.

“Future legislation should support supplemental pay that reflects the work and hazards these individuals are encountering on a daily basis.  Eligibility for the additional pay should include, but not be limited to, health care workers along the spectrum of care, grocery workers, restaurant workers, child care providers, public sector workers (including police, fire, corrections, postal), farmworkers, utility workers, transportation workers, sanitation workers and other hourly employees deemed essential.  Federal employees who are required to report to work, including Title 38 employees with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration should also be included. Federal workers who cannot work remotely are in immediate danger of exposure, and current protocols have no guarantees of protection. The legislation should include a full tax credit or other form of reimbursement for businesses under 500, to be appropriately scaled down for larger employers. Business participation in the supplemental compensation should be mandatory.

“We are asking these individuals and their families to sacrifice so much for our nation. It is imperative that we make every effort to prevent this crisis from being one that is disproportionately borne by the working class.  Instead we should use this as an opportunity to pay them their full worth – a worth that has been undervalued in many cases for far too long.”

Click here to read the full letter.

While national data regarding race has not been released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preliminary data show’s a disparate impact on minority communities who are more likely to have underlying health conditions and disproportionately serve in low income blue-collar jobs.  



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