Some States Are Stepping Up to Support Workers

Workers are being hit hard both physically and economically due to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government has stepped up in some ways to improve the lives of hardworking Americans. But a few states have decided to do even more.

We noted earlier this month how Minnesota Teamsters were involved in pushing legislation there expanding the reach of workers compensation to frontline workers who come down with COVID-19. And others are doing the same. Illinois, for example, joined the Land of 10,000 Lakes in expanding the benefit to essential workers when the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission approved an emergency rule last week.

Other states, like Minnesota and Vermont, have been expanding the definition of essential workers to include food distribution workers, including those who work in the warehouses. Such a move increases the types of benefits they are eligible to receive from the state, such as child care.

Still other states, eyeing the increasing numbers of people out of work, have extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26 weeks federal standard. Michigan and Colorado have increased the benefit to 39 weeks.

The U.S. faces a nearly unprecedented crisis. Through no fault of their own, essential workers are being forced to work at jobs that jeopardize their health. Others, meanwhile, are struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads because they have been laid off.

Elected officials need to step up to the challenge and support working Americans, who need help now more than ever. These states show what is possible.