Home News and Features VBSR supports S. 346, Essential Employees Hazard Grant Program

VBSR supports S. 346, Essential Employees Hazard Grant Program

Today Senate lawmakers are poised to act on legislation that would provide hazard pay to at-risk, essential workers, including grocers, pharmacy workers, trash collectors, janitors, child care professionals, assisted living and nursing home caregivers, and others facing an increased risk of infection as they continue to serve their fellow Vermonters through the COVID-19 pandemic.

S. 346 would create the COVID-19 Essential Employees Hazard Grant Program, providing monthly grants to qualifying essential employees making less than $25 per hour. Employees working more than 108 hours per month would receive $1000 grants and those working at least 34 hours a month would get $600 grants. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) stands in support of the measure because providing hazard pay is key to rewarding the brave Vermonters who are saving lives and keeping core parts of our economy running.

“The essential employees in the State of Vermont have played an integral role in our successes while attempting to flatten the curve. They have gone in day after day to support the vast majority of Vermonters doing their part at home. They have navigated ever-changing rules and regulations, all in the name of protecting and supporting our communities in the face of something we hardly understand,” said Garnet Transport Medicine. “From grocery clerks to childcare professionals, delivery drivers, to hospital staff, EMS providers, and others, we have all come together to meet the task at hand. Garnet is extraordinarily proud of our team who has come in every day without question to continue serving our community in the midst of this pandemic, putting themselves at risk each time they move a patient. Advocating for The Essential Employees Grant Program is one small way we can say thank you to our employees alongside the unflinching community of Vermont’s essential workers for being the ones boldly facing the risks of exposure.”

Kari Bradley, General Manager at Hunger Mountain Coop said, “Grocers and essential workers across the state have been working heroically at great risk to themselves and their loved ones and under tremendous stress. Our cooperative strongly supports the Essential Employees Hazard Grant Program in recognition of their sacrifice and contributions.” 

“Hazard pay for Vermont’s essential workers is just that—essential,” said VBSR Public Policy Manager, Jordan Giaconia. “From first responders and clinicians to grocers and sanitation workers, they are being asked to take incredible risks and make incredible sacrifices to keep the Green Mountain State going. The least that we can do is provide fair compensation, recognition, and protection for the invaluable work they’re doing in the face of this unprecedented crisis.”

“This legislation totally makes sense given that our communities need these grocery and retail workers to keep at their jobs, while at the same time we need to compensate them as essential workers that are on the front lines during this pandemic. Seems only fair to them and their families” said Glenn Lower with Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op.

“COVID-19 has demanded unprecedented sacrifices on the part of people throughout society. Front-line workers, including people in healthcare, have faced additional risks due to the nature of their jobs and the important roles they play in keeping our communities functioning. In recognition of this fact the Retreat supports S.346” said Peter Albert, Senior Vice President of Government Relations at the Brattleboro Retreat.