Essential workers premium pay letter


Eraina Ortega, Director CalHR
1515 S Street
North Building, Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95811-7258

Re: Rewarding essential workers with premium pay 

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