Eraina Ortega, Director CalHR
1515 S Street
North Building, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95811-7258
Re: Rewarding essential workers with premium
Dear Ms. Ortega:
The 10 bargaining units and nearly 100,000 employees represented
by SEIU Local 1000 remained on the front lines throughout the
pandemic, providing the vital services Californians expect. At a
time when a trip to the grocery store was deemed unsafe, those
employees accepted the risk to themselves and their families and
served the public heroically.
Their extraordinary efforts deserve recognition, and compensation
that reflects the hazards they faced while doing essential work.
Our represented health professionals—more than 10,000 registered
nurses, LVNs, and CNAs—worked to maintain the health of our
prison population and our veterans. Our custodians kept state
offices sanitary and safe, and our prison cooks risked daily
exposure to feed inmates.
Our EDD workforce helped strengthen California’s economy by
processing millions of unemployment checks. Drivers were
licensed, vehicles registered, and other critical public-facing
services remained available.
The recently-signed state budget for FY ’21-22—which includes
more than $27 billion in federal relief—has no direct provision
to provide premium pay for essential workers, despite the
intentions of the American Rescue Plan Act package that provided
our state with these funds.
The U.S. Treasury’s public comment period on rules for spending
these funds ends soon. As the federal government prepares its
final guidance, it is necessary that Governor Newsom and CalHR do
their work to establish the essential worker premium pay program.
It’s time to acknowledge those who performed essential work under
constant threat of the potentially devastating impact of
contracting COVID-19. Local 1000-represented employees help keep
California healthy, safe, and strong. Reward these essential
workers for their dedication with premium pay.
Thank you for your consideration.
Richard Louis Brown
SEIU Local 1000