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Healthcare workers, officials, rally at State House to receive payout due to virus frontline work

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1199SEIU healthcare workers Thursday joined elected officials and local healthcare leaders for a rally at the State House to advocate for funding as part of the American Rescue Plan, in recognition of the work of healthcare workers since the onset of the COVID-29 pandemic last year.

Healthcare workers were joined by supporters including Senator Julian Cyr, Representative Jim O’Day, Lynn Community Health Center, Genesis Healthcare, and Elara Caring.

Massachusetts will receive nearly $5.3 billion in federal pandemic relief and 1199SEIU wants frontline healthcare workers to receive a portion. The union states that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have cared for the sick while risking their own health and the health of their families in our hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers and homes.

“Frontline health workers made tremendous sacrifices amidst the COVID pandemic, risking the health and well-being of themselves and their families in order to care for those in need,” said Tim Foley, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “As the legislature and the Baker Administration contemplate the best use of these funds, we are here today to ensure these workers are not forgotten. Healthcare workers rescued us when we needed them, it’s time we return the favor.”

“The last 15 months has been devastating as we’ve battled this virus. The emotional toll has been heartbreaking too, having to stand-in for families who could not say goodbye to their loved ones battling COVID,” said Veisha Howell, a registered nurse from Boston Medical Center. “Premium pay would be a tangible way to recognize our contributions and the toll this crisis has had on us.”

Congress and President Biden’s guidance for ARPA includes ‘premium pay’ for essential workers. This would include 200,000 hospital workers, 40,000 nursing home workers, 20,000 community health center workers, and 100,000 home care workers in Massachusetts.

1199SEIU is advocating that direct care workers receive one-time bonuses of between $1,000 to $3,000 based on the number of hours worked in direct contact with the health crisis. This proposal would cost approximately $500 million of the $5.3 billion allocated to Massachusetts.

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