Senate Refuses Hazard Pay For Essential Workers In Next Stimulus Bill?
As a country, we ought to do more than just praise essential workers. We need to ensure they get hazard pay.
Will the House let the Senate negotiate away hazard pay for essential workers? The Senate has unveiled news that it will support a second round of stimulus checks in its forthcoming stimulus relief proposal. However, contrary to the House which passed hazard pay for essential workers, Leader McConnell doesn’t expect that the Senate will provide hazard pay for essential workers.
Despite fighting to protect employers against employee lawsuits—which is expected to be part of the Senate stimulus proposal— it appears that the Senate will indeed exclude hazard pay for essential workers from its upcoming stimulus proposal. Will the final stimulus package really leave essential workers out in the cold? Essential workers are overlooked and underpaid. This category of employees is too often the devalued, disregarded, disrespected and underpaid workers in our society. Is the Senate really prepared to put forward a new stimulus proposal in the coming days that protects employers while excluding hazard pay for the most essential workers?
Senate stimulus package expected to include liability protections for employers but exclude hazard pay for essential workers.
Republicans have communicated that they will include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks in the forthcoming Senate stimulus package proposal, but Senate Leader Mitch McConnell indicates that he doesn’t expect the stimulus package to include hazard pay for essential workers. At least 145,000 people have died in the U.S. alone from coronavirus, millions continue to lose jobs every month, and millions more are struggling to make ends meet because they are dealing with the wave of pay cuts extending across the workforce.
Surely, there is pain—lots of pain—flowing in all directions. But essential workers experience the lion’s share of this pain, and if Congress continues to praise these employees as heroes without paying them for their sacrifices, it will become one more tragic (and long-remembered) event of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leaders and supervisors have a strategic imperative to create an environment where employees can do their best work. This includes providing resources and removing obstacles. Right now, hazard pay for essential workers should be considered and non-negotiable resource that congressional leaders must approve in any additional stimulus package that passes Congress.
Pelosi says the House won’t protect employers from liability against essential workers.
The House has already passed a $200 billion Heroes’ fund for essential workers back in May when it passed the Heroes Act which includes hazard pay for essential workers and a second $1,200 stimulus check, among other things. At issue now is the fact that there are several discrepancies between what the Democratic-led House passed in the Heroes Act stimulus package and what the Republican-led Senate is currently planning to put forth in its new stimulus package. Hazard pay for essential workers, funding for state and local governments and enhanced stimulus funds for unemployed workers are three huge areas where differences remain.
During this interview on Face the Nation on CBS, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, communicated that the House will not support any stimulus bill that waives employer liability for essential workers. Specifically, Pelosi said,
“What we will not support is the following. What they’re saying to essential workers [is] you have to go to work because you’re essential. We place no responsibility on your employer to make that workplace safe, and if you get sick, you have no recourse because we’ve given your employer protection. And if you don’t go to work because you’re afraid of being sick and you have that job opportunity, you don’t get unemployment insurance. This is so unfair.”
Will the Senate praise essential workers but refuse to include hazard pay in the next stimulus package?
I find it appalling that trillions of dollars have been poured into an economy that is primarily being buttressed by essential workers and yet not one dime of this money has been allocated specifically to provide hazard pay for essential workers. As Americans, we go around touting the our love and appreciation for the sacrifices being made by essential workers, but our federal government hasn’t yet paid them one dime more than any other worker for those sacrifices.
Essential workers, as a category, are carrying an inordinate amount of the burden during this pandemic, and they are (on average) paid the less and devalued the most.
Up until now, three different coronavirus relief bills have been passed and signed into law, but none of them delivered hazard pay specifically to those who operate daily on the frontlines of this often declared ongoing war. Not one. And though Republican and Democrat Senators agree that Congress should pass some version of hazard pay for essential workers, nothing has yet to be announced in the new stimulus package the Senate will put forward as early as today.
A few months ago Senator Schumer (D – NY) stated that getting hazard pay approved in the next phase stimulus relief bill is “one of our very, very highest priorities.” The question today is does Senator Schumer still intend to fight for this? Will Schumer work across the aisle in the Senate to get hazard pay included in the Senate stimulus package? Will Schumer collaborate with House Democrats to ensure that they hold the line on this specific component of the Heroes Act as the House begins negotiations with the Senate to get a fourth comprehensive stimulus package passed in Congress?
Will Congress finally provide hazard pay for the essential workers they continue to praise? The House already passed a bill with hazard pay. Now the House must define this as a red line in negotiations with the Senate if essential workers are to ever actually receive well-deserved hazard pay.