Whitmer backs one-time bonus payment for Michigan essential employees who worked through pandemic

‘Hero Pay’ proposal would reward employees who helped Michigan through pandemic

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP File)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP File)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is supporting a proposed bonus payment for essential employees who worked throughout the COVID pandemic.

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A “Hero Pay” proposal introduced by Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) and Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint) would provide a one-time payment for essential workers who served through the pandemic, according to the state.

The governor has thrown her support behind that proposal, saying those workers kept the state moving.

“Today, we honor the untold sacrifices made by essential workers who stepped up for their families, communities and the state of Michigan by paying them what they deserve,” Whitmer said. “The hundreds of thousands of folks who worked through the pandemic to keep the rest of us going embody what being a Michigander is all about: You care for your neighbors. You work hard. You get it done no matter the odds. We must ensure they have the support they need to thrive as we emerge from the pandemic together.”

According to Whitmer’s administration, more than half of all occupations in the U.S. with a median wage below $15 per hour are considered essential.

While some companies have stepped in to provide hero pay to frontline employees, many have not, the state release says.

“I will fight alongside my colleagues in the Michigan House and Senate to ensure that frontline and essential workers get the hero pay they deserve as we continue our economic jumpstart, and I look forward to signing a piece of legislation that makes effective use of the federal stimulus dollars we have to invest in working families and communities,” Whitmer said. “We cannot waste the opportunity we have to deliver meaningful change that makes a real difference in people’s lives, especially those who worked courageously through the pandemic ensuring the rest of us could live our lives as normally as possible.”

The resolutions build on previous actions Michigan took in using federal dollars to disburse hero pay to a group of frontline essential workers in public-sector-funded industries, including a one-time $1,000 for first responders and a $2-per-hour for direct-care workers who provided Medicaid-funded care, state officials said.


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Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.