TOPEKA, Kan. – The American Federation of Teachers has endorsed a hazard pay program for frontline workers that has been introduced in the Kansas Senate and to Governor Laura Kelly.
The American Federation of Teachers says Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes has introduced the Frontline Service Pay Act, which will give swift, direct relief to workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic who make less than $25 per hour at no cost to taxpayers. It said Sen. Sykes called on Republican Leadership and Governor Laura Kelly to join together to include the plan in upcoming budget negotiations.
“As Topeka debates providing support for businesses struggling because of the pandemic, Kansas legislators must also act to support the essential workers who have kept our state running on bargain-basement wages. The American Rescue Plan Act finally provides Topeka the necessary authority and resources to get it done,” said AFT Kansas President Sarah LaFrenz. “AFT Kansas fully endorses Sen. Sykes’ Frontline Service Pay Program, and our tens of thousands of members will be working hard over the coming weeks to persuade their legislators to pass this important legislation before the session concludes.”
According to AFT, the American Rescue Plan passed on March 11 earmarked federal funds that states can use to give “premium pay” to essential workers. It said these essential workers have kept the state running for over a year in challenging conditions. It said many of the jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic are the most low-paying in normal times. It said attracting new workers is difficult and some experts have warned of potential shortages. It said the Frontline Service Pay Act will help employers recognize the hard work of their employees, improve morale and retain valued employees at no cost to employers.
AFT said its gratitude for these workers is just not enough, it said the risks workers are assuming in their paychecks should be recognized. With the American Rescue Plan, it said it has resources to do that by enacting the Frontline Service Pay Act with no cost to Kansans. It said it urges state legislators to use these federal funds to give temporary hazard pay for the disproportionate risks essential workers have assumed on behalf of all Kansans.