Citing concerns about the financial impact of ongoing wildfires and the drought, the State of California has failed to include a Pandemic Recognition Bonus for essential workers in the budget trailer bill.
Even though we were able to propose and win other legislation supporting healthcare workers this year, including extending COVID paid sick leave, I am frustrated that not enough legislators stood up in favor of basic recognition for the sacrifices essential workers have been through in this pandemic.
We first introduced AB 650 in February of this year to call on our employers to financially recognize the risks we were taking and the physical and mental toll of being on the front lines of the pandemic from the beginning. Not only did our employers fail us by not supporting AB 650, they actively opposed the bill and prevented it from getting out of the State Assembly.
We quickly joined together with other union members to come up with a way to get some level of recognition — some bonus — for healthcare workers and other essential workers. There were many legislators who stood with us and fought to win this bill — especially Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, author of AB 650, co-authors Kalra and Rodriguez, Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and the 46 legislators who publicly signed on in support of our budget bill. But in the end the State of California didn’t make the Pandemic Recognition Bonus a priority.
This loss is disappointing, and just shows us that we need to continue to build our political strength. There is too much at stake for our jobs, our safety, and for patient care to do anything less. And, we will continue fighting — at the bargaining table, with legislators, and in our communities — to ensure that the heroism of healthcare workers in this pandemic is respected and recognized.