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Workers eligible for frontline bonuses; still urging government to address long-term issues

Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 4:22 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – After months of back and forth, Minnesota lawmakers were able to reach a deal to give bonuses to workers who were on the front lines during the pandemic and to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

“This was a really really big priority, something that we’ve been working on for a number of months now,” Senate Majority Leader Senator Jeremy Miller said.

Lawmakers say these checks will make a real difference in workers’ lives.

“Really, another fantastic example of what can happen when Democrats and Republicans work together in the House and Senate and together with the government’s office to focus on getting good things done for the people of Minnesota,” Sen. Miller said.

The bonuses coming at a time when inflation is skyrocketing.

“It’s actually at a time when we’re seeing record high rates of inflation, and it’s becoming more and more challenging for Minnesotans to afford their lives because the cost on virtually everything is increasing right now,” Senator Miller said.

Cardinal of Minnesota is a group home care facility in Minnesota whose workers are eligible for frontline checks.

“Many of our workers and past workers absolutely were day in and day out working to support our most vulnerable residents, citizens,” Cardinal of Minnesota CEO Michelle Priggin said.

However, a one-time check may not be enough for some industries who have dealt with major staffing shortages such as Cardinal of Minnesota. Seven of its facilities in Olmsted County have shut down due to lack of staff.

“We still have pockets within our organization where it’s still at the crisis level,” Priggen said.

While the checks may help keep people in their current positions, some workers say the government needs to take it a step further and help recruit essential workers.

“I don’t think it’s enough to really draw more people into this field, this sector, and that’s what we’re really seeking is that long term sustainability of this industry,” Priggen said.

A few weeks ago, the Minnesota Department of Human Services issued an emergency staffing initiative that the organization hopes will fill in the gaps in industries suffering from staffing shortages.

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