FL: Grant Hazard Pay to Essential Workers Who Can't Work From Home

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J M started this petition to Governor Ron DeSantis and

On April 1st, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91 on Essential Services and Activities During COVID-19 Emergency, which implemented a statewide safer-at-home order in the midst of the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic.

While this solidified the importance of staying home and practicing social distancing exercises to prevent the spread of the virus, it has exempted millions of workers in various and broadly listed industries from the privilege to remain sheltered, putting them and their loved ones at risk with every shift they take at their places of work. 

At the writing of this petition, Florida has surpassed 9,000 confirmed cases for individuals who have had access to testing. Nearly 150 have succumbed to the disease. In just a month, the United States has surpassed 238,000 cases, and nearly 6,000 deaths. A new projection released by the White House has indicated that there will be nationwide deaths in the six figures. Florida is expected to surpass 7,000 deaths related to the disease at its projected peak in May, losing around 130 people per day. 

The prior week, news circulated that upward of 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment, which is expected to only increase as non-essential businesses or businesses losing revenue due to the pandemic shutter their doors. This puts the economic weight on essential workers who in many cases have become or are becoming the sole breadwinners in their households. 

On March 27th, President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus stimulus bill into law, which will provide for cash payments of $1,200.00 per taxpayer earning less than $75,000 a year. In Florida, this amount may barely cover our notoriously high cost of living. Most one bedroom apartments throughout the state have a monthly rate of that amount or more alone, not withstanding miscellaneous bills and expenses, and of course groceries and health products. To add insult to injury, individuals who did not use direct deposit when their taxes were filed may wait up to 20 weeks to receive their stimulus checks.

The state of Florida has already taken a catastrophic economic hit; its lifeblood is tourism and hospitality. With the theme park and cruise port capitals of the world shut down indefinitely and thousands of resorts, bars, and restaurants across the state at risk of never recovering, the time is now for a serious injection of cash into the state economy. 

As the essential workers of Florida, we recommend that a moral imperative be taken to handle this emergency. This is a golden political opportunity for the DeSantis administration and the leaders of our beautiful state to step up and save the lives and livelihoods of millions of Florida families during an unprecedented historical crisis. 

Using the authority vested in them by the Florida Constitution, we demand the cooperation of Governor DeSantis, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried in delegating all state agencies relevant to disaster management and labor to swiftly implement a plan that guarantees all essential workers who are unable to work from home be granted hazard pay at 150% of their current salaries.

Through the Agency for Workforce Innovation, we demand oversight and organization on the rapid implementation of said hazard pay. Through the Florida Division of Emergency Management, we demand clear guidelines sent by smartphone alerts, email, phone calls, and digital road signs pertaining to curfews and public services in response to the pandemic, as well as block grants for local and small businesses still in operation to ensure the hazard pay will be enforced immediately.

If a sweeping and courageous action is not taken, the magnitude of this crisis will leave lasting economic and social effects for years to come, turning a once attractive state for tourists and paradise for locals into a depraved and unfriendly ghost town. Quality of life for all people is priority #1, and it is high time Florida led the way in taking dramatic action for the good of its constituents at such a critical moment in our history. We have managed to pull through much worse tragedy as a state and stayed above water, putting in hours and serving our communities. Now is the time for the state to show us its appreciation.

 

 

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