Joe Biden, 2020 vice-presidential candidate, has said that he wants to raise all essential workers pays as one of his coronavirus relief measures. Other measures include increasing PPE protections, enforcing worker safety guidelines and increasing access to COVID-19 testing.
Here’s what you need to know about his plan for essential workers.
Biden’s Plan Earned Him the Endorsement From a Major Service Employee Union
As part of Biden’s “battle for the soul of the nation,” he said that he wants to provide all frontline workers with a $15 per hour minimum wage, which has earned him an endorsement from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“Caregivers are standing up and demanding the protections and standards we need to be safe. Joe Biden wants to make sure we get paid what we’re worth,” SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania member Shanrika Nelson said.
Here is Biden’s plan for essential workers’ pay:
There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. The Trump Administration should immediately work with Congress to pass a bold premium pay initiative. Under the Senate Democrats’ “Heroes Fund” proposal, the federal government would step in and give essential workers a raise, with additional funding to attract workers to serve as health and home care workers and first responders. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and caregiving leave for every worker, which Joe Biden called for in his March 12 plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers.
Biden Has A Four-Point Plan for Essential Workers
Along with a raise to $15/hr, Biden’s four-point plan for essential workers includes guarantees for coronavirus testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and enforcing Obama-era Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections requiring certain industries to have infection control programs.
Sufficient PPE has long been an issue for essential workers during this pandemic. The Washington Post reported on mask, gown and glove shortages for health care workers in July and service industries from the waste and recycling industry to home health care workers have described struggling with a lack of PPE.
“We’ve got to get this garbage picked up … But it’s a lot of garbage. Everybody’s cleaning out. You’ve got couches. You’ve got everything in the alleys. It’s loaded. It’s unbelievable,” Steve Marucci, the vice president of Laborers Local 1001, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “How ’bout some masks? How about some shields maybe? We don’t get nothing from the city to help us … Our people need masks, too. When residents come out and speak to ’em when they’re picking up their garbage, they should definitely have some kind of mask on.”
The types of essential employees who need PPE is long and includes fast-food workers, emergency responders (police and fire) as well as many others. A handout from OSHA states that employers are unequivocally required to provide PPE, which could prove challenging for small business owners seeking a product in such high demand.
The page outlining this plan does not address how he would pay for this plan, even though it does state that he believes the Trump Administration should “fully us(e) the Defense Production Act.” and “fully empower a Supply Commander to coordinate the production and delivery of essential supplies and equipment, including masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.”