Tuesday, April 7, 2020
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.