Contributed by Deb Kline.
Three proposals focusing on Frontline Workers have been unveiled by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate for consideration in the fourth coronavirus relief package
Three different proposals have been released by members of the U.S. Senate intended to support the frontline workers to varying degrees. The goal is to include more focused provisions to protect and reward these workers, and to stimulate interest in filling these much needed jobs. Ideally, some form of these proposals will be included in the fourth coronavirus relief package, and you can help by calling Congress and demanding their support. Don’t forget your state government, which in many cases has done more to protect its people than the federal government.
Essential Workers Bill of Rights
In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ro Khanna’s unveiled an “Essential Workers Bill of Rights,” which has been cheered by leading progressive organizations – including Indivisible and MoveOn – who are demanding the next coronavirus relief package take care of those on the frontlines of the pandemic.
COVID-19 Hero’s Fund
Also in April, Senate Democrats Charles Schumer (NY), Gary Peters (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Patty Murray (WA), Robert Casey (PA), and Tom Udall (NM) revealed the COVID-19 Hero’s Fund — a federal fund offering payments of up to $25,000, or $13 an hour and retroactive compensation for qualifying workers dating back to late January, when the public health emergency was first declared. Their plan also proposes a one-time payment of $15,000 to draw new workers into essential fields.
- Uses a flat-dollar amount per hour premium model in order to ensure it is clear, simple, and lifts up particularly those workers making lower wages.
- Would give each essential frontline worker $13/hour premium pay on top of regular wages for all hours worked in essential industries through the end of 2020.
- Would cap the total maximum premium pay at $25,000 for each essential frontline worker earning less than $200,000 per year and $5,000 for each essential worker earning $200,000 or more per year.
Then on May 1, Utah Senator Mitt Romney released his Patriot Pay proposal aimed at providing bonus pay — up to $12 an hour on top of normal wages — for employees in eligible jobs. The increase would extend through May, June and July and would be paid out by employers and the federal government via a payroll tax credit. Workers in industries designated by Congress and the Department of Labor as essential, including hospitals, grocery stores and health manufacturing, could qualify for the hazard pay.
- For essential employees that make less than $50,000 annualized, employers would receive a 75% refundable payroll tax credit for a bonus up to $12 an hour.
- For essential employees making over $50,000 annualized, the tax credit phases out by $24 for every additional $500 in income until annualized incomes hit $90,000.
- The maximum tax credit is $1,440 per month, per employee, meaning a full-time worker would receive up to a $1,920 monthly bonus.
Unlike the Democratic proposal however, Romney’s plan opts to offer employers a refundable payroll tax credit for paying out the bonuses to eligible employees. The plan states that employers would be refunded for up to three-quarters of hazard pay bonuses to employees making less than $90,000 a year.
- ACTION! Call your U.S. Senators and tell them to support the Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights and COVID-19 Hero’s Fund in the next coronavirus relief package. Find their contact information here.
ACTION! Sign Indivisible.org’s The People’s Agenda Pledge to make sure your Representative opposes any coronavirus relief bill that does not 1) Keep people on payrolls; 2) Provide aid to the most vulnerable, including cash, food, debt relief and eviction protection; 3) Provide full healthcare coverage for all frontline workers, and 4) Enact a vote-by-mail requirement for all federal elections. Find all the tools you need plus at Indivisible.org The People’s Agenda