Essential workers protected us. Now it’s time we stand up for them.

During the pandemic, our state’s public health and public safety have depended heavily on frontline essential workers. They have cared for patients, stocked grocery store shelves, staffed prisons, operated public transit systems, maintained construction sites, cared for children, and ensured residents had access to other important services.

Despite the risks, essential workers showed up and did their jobs while many of us worked comfortably from home.

Now, it’s time to make sure that we look after them. Two bills before the legislature, which we refer to as the Essential Worker Rescue Plan, will do exactly that.

These bills, House Bill 6595 and Senate Bill 1002, are critical for all working people in our state, but especially for our frontline workers.

Most importantly, the Essential Worker Rescue Plan will:

  • establish a COVID-19 workers’ compensation presumption so essential workers infected on the job can access earned healthcare and wage replacement benefits;
  • allow healthcare and other essential workers to receive workers’ compensation benefits to treat pandemic-induced post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI);
  • provide hazard pay to essential workers for their service during the pandemic; and,
  • require the state to prepare for a future emergency by creating a personal protective equipment stockpile.

This is the very least we should be doing for our essential workers. We have long hailed them as heroes. It’s up to us to treat them that way too.

Click here to read the full op-ed.