Gov. Wolf to Legislature: Provide Support to Front-line Workers in Life-Sustaining Industries

Governor Tom Wolf called on the General Assembly to provide additional funding for the COVID-19 Hazard Pay Program to support front-line workers risking their health to continue working in life-sustaining industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pennsylvanians who work front-line, essential jobs during this pandemic deserve our gratitude and our respect, but even more, they deserve compensation for their hard work. The COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant Program was created to keep front-line employees working in vital industry sectors and to compensate workers appropriately for the additional hazards their jobs entail during a pandemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “The overwhelming response we received for this program shows a clear need for additional hazard pay funding, and so I am calling on the General Assembly to allocate additional and much-needed funds so that we can further support workers who put their health on the line to keep life-sustaining services operating for all of us.”

As part of his fall legislative agenda, Gov. Wolf is calling on the General Assembly to provide an additional $225 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to the state’s COVID-19 Hazard Pay Program, a reimbursement-based grant that was announced in July to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which administered the program, received more than 10,000 applications totaling nearly $900 million, of which more than 5,000 businesses requesting $300 million were eligible. Of those, 639 employers were awarded $50 million, supporting a $3 per hour increase in pay for 41,587 workers across eligible industries.

“The COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant Program is one way we can give back to employees in critical industries, because we know that these workers didn’t stop when COVID-19 appeared in the commonwealth. They continued to show up and help each and every day. From health care to food retail and manufacturing, security, and transportation — these are just a few examples of the industries and the people being helped by these grants,” Davin said. “However, it can’t be overlooked that thousands of Pennsylvania businesses applied for and deserved this funding. There is immense need for more resources, more assistance, more grant dollars — and the Wolf Administration is committed to finding additional avenues of support for Pennsylvania’s front-line workers.”

The governor was joined at a news conference today by the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC, as well as business advocates, business owners and elected officials.

CREDC is a DCED Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO), which allows it to administer DCED loan programs, including the COVID-19 Hazard Pay Program. CREDC applied for the program on behalf of 25 local employers. Of those 25, three Harrisburg-area employers were awarded hazard pay funding for their employees — Facility Concierge Services, a commercial service; Mom Foods Inc., a small grocery store; and Eisenhower Inc., a convenience store.

“I want to thank the Governor for responding to the overwhelming need to add more funding to hazard pay,” said state Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin). “Saying ‘thank you’ with signs and social media posts are nice, but compensating workers for the risk and stress they endured is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Gov. Wolf also supports the Heroes Fund, in the bi-partisan Federal HEROES Act, which would provide $200 billion in hazard pay to life-sustaining workers.