Michigan senator proposes $25K 'heroes' pay for frontline essential workers

DETROIT (WJBK) -- Michigan Senator Gary Peters is among several Democratic Senators calling for a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers during the coronavirus fight.

Under the "COVID-19 Heroes Fund", frontline workers would receive an increase in $25,000 for the rest of 2020 plus a $15,000 essential recruitment incentive for employers to recruit and offer premium pay to fight the public health crisis.

Peters said the "Heroes Fund" would provide pandemic premium pay to reward, retain and recruit essential workers. But it isn't just healthcare workers. According to Peters, this applies to grocery store employees, home care workers, pharmacists, postal workers, and other essential employees.

"So many people are working hard and performing essential duties to help our communities confront this pandemic, and they deserve to be compensated for their dedication," said Peters. "Whether it's health care providers and food supply workers in the private sector, or postal workers and security professionals in the public sector, we owe our frontline workers our thanks and our support.

"This proposal not only addresses the financial needs of these essential workers, it also presses for additional protective gear and other measures that will help ensure they can continue to perform their critical roles while protecting their health and safety."

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer declared the emerging proposal the "highest priority" from Democrats as congressional leaders and President Donald Trump plunge with more aid for Americans. Nurses, truck drivers grocery store clerks and others are "risking their lives" to care for Americans amid the stark pandemic and economic shutdown, he said.

"This is a heroes' fund and they deserve it," Schumer said.

The latest proposal is a volley in negotiations as President Trump and the congressional leaders align in the push that Americans will need more aid beyond the just-passed $2.2 trillion effort.

"We're going to take good care of our people," President Trump said Monday at his daily White House briefing. "It was not their fault."

The contours of the package are still being debated and it's unclear if the new idea from the New York senator would gain traction with President Trump or his Republican allies in Congress, especially given what is sure to be an enormous price tag.

But there's a rare sign of emerging consensus that more needs to be done as Washington responds to the public health emergency and severe economic fallout that is ransacking communities nationwide, a crisis on par with a war effort or the Great Depression.