Coronavirus Cases Are Going up, but Hazard Pay for Essential Employees Hasn't Come Back

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Brought to you by. Ford ford is proud to support women who power america forward. Okay so are you down with roommates. As long as they do their dishes more than every three months. While we're la comedy group obama's daughters and on our podcast you down or discussing. What's going on in the culture. All things adults in little word. We all love t girl. You're such an adult. Yes we're fulfilling funny black girl podcast dreams every week. Thanks shonda land so come kiki with us enjoying the kinds of candid conversations. You only have with your girls. Listen on the iheartradio app apple podcasts. Or wherever you get your podcast. It's wednesday november twenty fifth. I'm oscar ramirez from the daily podcast in los angeles and this is reopening. America retailers are preparing for another surge of shoppers as we see rising cases of corona virus and in some areas new rounds of lockdowns all the while essential workers continue to go into work and put their health at risk hazard. Pay incentives that we saw at the beginning of the pandemic have not come back and some companies. Don't plan on bringing back. Michael corkery business reporter at the new york times jones for more on the lack of corona virus hazard pay. Thanks for joining us. Michael thanks for having me. Everybody remembers at the beginning of the pandemic. When there was a lot of lockdowns going on there was all of our essential people running the country. these essential employees a lot of them in retail in other sectors. They're getting hazard pay payback either hourly or bonuses kinda to thank them for still having to work and also to persuade them to keep going to work in a lot of people. Were calling out sick or just quitting jobs altogether because they were scared of what the coronavirus was doing out there. Well right now. We're seeing cases rise. We're seeing new lockdowns in some places. But these people aren't getting new hazard. Pay the aren't seeing pay bumps and it's calling into question a lot of companies who did it at the beginning you know when they're seeing huge profits right now in these quarterly earnings at their reporting so michael. Tell us a little bit more about what we're learning about this. It's a really different situation as you mentioned early in the pandemic for a couple reasons the first you know let's not forget these are companies and so i think do appreciate their workers and sacrifices some of these workers were making or early in the pandemic but early on in march and april. They also dealing with like a lot of absenteeism and workers. Were either getting sick or afraid of getting sick at family members that were getting sick and weren't showing up to work and there was also at that time very very generous unemployment benefits that was whenever says supplemental six hundred dollars a week so in order to incentivize people early on the company's needed to raise wages they needed to come up with these big bonuses fast forward to this latest deadly wave of the coronavirus and the situation has changed a lot. The unemployment benefits are gone. Congress has not voted to extend them the economy. There's still very high unemployment. And i think feeling although the companies would not this publicly but if you talk to economists and analysts they will say that they have the leverage now that employees even if they are afraid of coming to work they need to work. They need to go back to work. Because there isn't the same safety net that there was. They decided not to go to work as there was in march april and may so. That's a big change. And i think that's a big driver of why the very generous hazard pay and appreciation pair raises. That were offered early on are not being extended right now. And what are we seeing from. Some of the top companies amazon walmart kroger. They all had some form of this at the beginning. Some of them don't have plans to extend this so-called hazard pay or anything. What are we looking at some of these top companies. Yeah i mean those three that you just mentioned amazon for instance early on was gonna be two dollar an hour pay raises. That's really significant. When you're someone work you know making fifty dollars an hour to go up to seventy dollars an hour that makes a difference croker same thing plus program was giving cash bonuses on top of that walmer never raise wages they did give a series of three bonuses. I think if you average it out fulltime worker walmart you've got a bonus if nine hundred dollars total through all this as appreciation for your work during the pandemic but someone say none of that was enough and yes. It has not continued of those companies. When i spoke in the last week at any plans of extending those bonuses or pay raises in any appreciable way. That's the case. Go back up. Yeah i think some of the thinking about that too. Is you know if you extend pay temporarily. The expectations are going to be that. That's gonna be permanent. I mean that's kind of what happened when the hazard pay kind of went away the first time around but there have been a few bright spots. Companies like best buy home depot. Best buy specifically raised their hourly wage for employees. I think home depot was trying to do some weekly bonus type thing so there are companies that are still trying to provide that benefit or their employees and beyond that there's some other programs that businesses can apply for. There was a weird thing. I guess there was a few companies that said. Don't want to use it. you know. We're maybe two big savings for smaller businesses but even those companies have come back and tried to apply for grants for their employees as well. There are standard companies. You mentioned best buy they have raise their wages and home depot. So that's a permanent thing home depot. They've raised their wages. It's not clear how much their wages you're going to go up. It just said this last weekend earnings call how much it's gonna hurt worker too little unclear. How generous that will be. But home depot was giving out a weekly bonus all the way through until last week so they started in march and went all the way through so that was a good positive thing. They were doing for their workers. So there are some standouts. The thing that these companies have to contend with is that the puck blake and the shopping public. I think they have a new appreciation for the work. That really workers have done through this pandemic and continue to do. These are cashiers and stocking the shelves and never before they in any context and thought of is essential workers. But this time when the public realized that if these folks weren't showing up for work or couldn't show up for work then it would be a problem with getting food to put you know on your family's table. I think people have an appreciation for how vital these roles. And i think therefore there's a new appreciation that these workers should be paid more and i think that sort of mentality that bad to on the public support may start putting pressure on the company to raise pay. I definitely agree with that sentiment. And you know in the absence of action from congress with any more stimulus or even you know they're deadlocked right now. You know even plans for more stuff. It's just tough to see where that's going to go. So you're right. I do think that people are willing to at least put the pressure on companies or or suggests that they kind of go through on some of this stuff. But you know we'll see what happens and and hopefully we can get some relief to these people like you said the essential workers that we wouldn't get our stuff without them having to go to work every day. Michael corkery business reporter at the new york times. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you. I'm oscar ramirez and this has been reopening america. Don't forget that big news stories. You can check me out on the daily podcast every monday. Through friday us on iheartradio or wherever you podcast. We are back and black on the black effect network. Hey y'all boundary and my on the general street. 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