Union says most support bonuses for health workers

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – As it advocates for using federal funds to provide bonuses to health care workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, the union 1199SEIU is pointing to a poll that shows broad support for the idea.

A poll of 550 registered voters, conducted by EMC Research and sponsored by the health care workers union, found that 74 percent support using American Rescue Plan Act money to make one-time payments to health care workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic over the last year.

“Legislators and healthcare leaders need to know that voters want the frontline workers who sacrificed so much for all of this year to be rewarded,” 1199SEIU executive vice president Tim Foley said in a statement. “We have all seen the banners, the flyovers, the cheering for these workers who risked their health to protect ours. Now it is time for us to truly reward and repay them.”

State lawmakers plan to hold hearings throughout the fall to help determine how to spend about $4.8 billion in available ARPA funds. The union wants direct care workers to get bonuses of $1,000 to $3,000, “based on the number of hours worked in direct contact with the health crisis,” and said that approximately 200,000 hospital workers, 40,000 nursing home workers, and 20,000 community health center workers would receive payments under that plan, using a total of about $500 million in ARPA funding.

Lynn Community Health Center, Steward Health Care, Elara Caring, Mass. Senior Care Association, Edgar P. Benjamin Nursing Center, Pine Knoll Nursing Center, Essex Group and Genesis Healthcare have all “stood with frontline workers and told Legislators that frontline caregivers deserve premium pay,” according to 1199SEIU, which is calling for other health care employers and industry groups to join them.

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