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House DPCC Co-Chair Cartwright, Sen. Casey Highlight Efforts to Provide Hazard Pay, More Support for Essential Workers Amid COVID-19

May 13, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Co-chair Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today held a virtual press conference with U.S. Senator Bob Casey (PA) to highlight their support for essential workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, where they discussed their efforts to fight for hazard pay and worker protections in the next coronavirus response package. The Pennsylvania lawmakers were joined by labor leaders and workers from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who discussed the risks and dangers they face at work.


Cartwright and Casey discussed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus aid package that was unveiled May 12 by House Democrats. The sweeping legislation provides broad support for our nation’s workers, including hazard pay for essential workers — provisions which were modeled after hazard pay proposals championed by Cartwright and Casey.


Cartwright also pointed out that the Heroes Act would require all workplaces to develop and implement infection control plans based on CDC expertise, and would prevent employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control problems – something Cartwright and Casey both fought for in supporting the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act.


“We need to ensure our nation’s essential workers are properly recognized for the work they are doing, and are protected against the risks they are taking in order to keep our country running during this unprecedented crisis,” Cartwright said. “Senator Casey has always been a champion for working Pennsylvanians, and I’ve been proud to serve alongside him during this crisis to provide workers with the support and protections they deserve.


“I want to commend Congressman Cartwright for his work on this issue and I am pleased to see that the new relief legislation in the House includes premium pay for essential workers,” said Senator Casey. “Our health care workers, grocery store workers, building cleaners, sanitation workers, food production workers and many more are keeping our country safe and operational in its time of greatest need. We owe it to our frontline heroes to compensate them, keep them safe on the job and ensure they have all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need.”


Cartwright and Casey were joined by Wendell Young, President of UFCW Local 1776, Gabe Morgan, Vice President and PA/DE State Director of 32BJ SEIU, and Leslie Rose, a 32BJ cleaner in Pittsburgh.


“Our local union represents 35,000 workers, almost all of whom are classified as essential workers, and the fact that they’re essential workers does not make them sacrificial workers,” Young said. “It’s important that elected officials stand up for these workers, stand up for these communities, and hold McConnell, and others in both chambers responsible for their positions. Thank you, Congressman Cartwright and Senator Casey, for your efforts and what you’ve proposed.”


“I hope folks can remember, including members of the Senate, that there are many, many essential workers – nurses, grocery store workers, janitors, security officers, home care workers – who are Republican,” Morgan said. “This is not a partisan issue, it’s a people issue. Applauding someone when they go into work and risk their lives is not nearly, nearly enough. It takes a national effort and a push to legislate the things that people so obviously need, like hazard pay and PPE."


“For years, many overlooked the jobs that my 32BJ union brothers and sisters do, but we are invisible no longer. This virus is showing how essential we are. While essential workers are getting a lot of love from car parades to nightly rounds of applause, what we really need are PPE, essential pay and layoff protections. I am appreciative of the efforts of Congressman Cartwright and Senator Casey for doing their part looking and out for us,” Rose said.