Coalition says Republican legislators must drop demand to exclude key workers
“We worked to not leave anyone behind during COVID, and now some legislators are holding up Essential Worker pay in order to exclude us?”
A coalition of essential workers called on Republicans members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group to move forward with a plan to allocate the funding agreed upon by Governor Walz and the Minnesota Legislature to compensate workers on the frontlines of the COVID crisis. Workers’ organizations expressed frustration that Republican members have blocked an inclusive distribution of the $250 million agreed to in budget negotiations, and argued that the legislature should act on an equitable plan to distribute at least this amount and expand the fund to compensate workers.
Republican members are demanding that the fund be administered in a way that would exclude many of the workers that have risked their safety to provide vital services during COVID, including janitors and security officers, childcare workers, school staff, meatpackers, and retail grocery store workers.
A joint statement of several unions, community organizations, and workers centers that have advocated for COVID protections and compensation for frontline workers, said:
“Whether in healthcare settings, making food, helping young people and students, cleaning buildings, preparing food, driving busses, or other crucial work, essential workers stepped up during COVID to keep Minnesota safe and healthy. Minnesota’s frontline workers sacrificed so much, from our health and safety to time with family, to make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind.
We worked to not leave anyone behind during COVID, and now some legislators are holding up Essential Worker pay in order to exclude us?
Many of us lost pay when we had to quarantine or be vaccinated. Yet when our bills come due, we have to pay them. The bill for this working group is overdue, and it’s time they deliver.
Any decision that excludes essential workers who gave so much during COVID would hurt thousands of Minnesotans who showed up to work, risked their health and did their job to keep our state running. It’s time for Republican members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group to drop their demand to exclude many of the essential workers who have worked and advocated to keep Minnesotans safe.
We repeat our call for the final decision on this process which includes all essential workers, is easy to access and gets money into the pockets of the essential workers who continue to sacrifice so much during COVID.”
The statement was signed by:
AFSCME Council 5
AFSCME Council 65
ATU Local 1005
CTUL (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha)
Kids Count on Us, an initiative of ISAIAH
Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE)
Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA)
SEIU Local 26
SEIU Local 284
UNITE-HERE Local 17
UFCW Local 1189
UFCW Local 663