May 21, 2020

KENNEDY UNVEILS ESSENTIAL WORKER COMPENSATION FUND

Proposal would cover economic losses and provide death benefits to surviving families

Newton, MA – As thousands of essential workers battle COVID-19 and hundreds more have died from the virus, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today unveiled the COVID-19 Worker Benefits Program (CWBP) to cover economic losses for workers and provide death benefits for the families of workers who have died. Kennedy’s proposed fund would provide $250,000 and economic loss compensation for any essential worker who died from COVID-19, plus an additional $100,000 for the spouse and each dependent of the victim. For workers who survived the virus, it would distribute benefits based on wage losses and medical costs.

“Essential workers have served and sacrificed to keep their communities safe, their neighbors healthy and this country strong. First responders, frontline health care providers, grocery store employees, transit workers, meatpacking plant workers, manufacturers, nursing home staff, gig workers and millions more have put their lives on the line so that others could stay home and stay healthy. In this national crisis, those workers deserve compensation for their sacrifice and any families mourning the loss of a loved one deserve benefits.

“Workers thrust into the depths of this global pandemic did not ask to be heroes, but their jobs and this moment demanded it. Hundreds, if not thousands, have died because we were not prepared for the devastation COVID-19 would bring to our country. And now, as many states begin to prematurely reopen their economies, millions more workers will be forced to put their lives at risk. If governments are willing to ask these workers to potentially sacrifice their lives for our economic wellbeing, we cannot turn our backs when grieving families demand justice.”

Modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Kennedy’s plan would create an Eligibility Committee and appoint a Special Master to distribute the benefits based on workers’ economic and noneconomic losses. 

###