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April 21, 2020 3:45 PM, EDT

Freight Groups Push for Inclusion in ‘Heroes Fund’

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A pair of groups integral to the distribution of fuel in the country called on Congress to include them in a proposal that would provide essential personnel $25,000 in compensation during the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Liquid Terminals Association and the National Tank Truck Carriers expressed support for the “Heroes Fund,” insisting the financial aid would assist in the recruitment and retainment of employees who are deemed essential. The fund has yet to gain approval on Capitol Hill.

“Without the continued work performed by these operations professionals, the fuel required to move critical supplies and people — including essential workers in other industries — would become unavailable,” the groups wrote to congressional leaders from both parties April 15.

ILTA and NTTC Letter by Transport Topics on Scribd

“A program to provide hazard pay and recruitment bonuses to support the critical workforce responsible for the distribution of diesel and gasoline would clearly strengthen the resilience of this critical energy sector, our nation’s ability to respond to the virus and the health of our entire economy,” added the groups, which represent the workforce tasked with the storage, loading, trucking and distribution of fuels.

The two groups went on to argue that due to their job functions, fuel distribution workers could be at a greater risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The groups also recommended that policymakers do not adopt a one-size-fits-all methodology to pandemic premium pay for essential workers.

As they put it in their letter to congressional leaders, “Good governance demands that fuel distribution companies applying for funding should be required to document their unique circumstances necessitating government assistance for premium pay for affected workers.”

Led by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s minority leader, Senate Democrats proposed establishing a fund that would provide a $25,000 premium pay increase for front-line workers categorized as essential during the crisis. The pay increase would last through the rest of the year. The Democrats also are proposing a recruitment incentive for front-line medical workers of $15,000.

A white paper detailing the Democrats’ proposal noted similar efforts during previous crises: “Disasters require exceptional flexibility in standard work schedules and assignments and often put first responders and other essential workers in dangerous situations. To ensure this critical workforce is compensated appropriately, there are precedents for funding hazard premium pay and worker incentives through a federal program.”

Those workers in the essential category include transit workers, certain commercial drivers, other transportation personnel and the petroleum storage workforce.

Earlier this month, Schumer announced the proposal to colleagues, noting, “Essential front-line workers sacrifice daily for our collective health and well-being, and Senate Democrats are fully committed to supplying these heroes the financial support they deserve.”

Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D), a member of her caucus’ leadership team and a backer of the proposal, added, “As we continue our coronavirus response, ensuring front-line workers receive premium pay during this pandemic is the least our country can do to honor these true heroes.”

The National Tank Truck Carriers represents more than 600 companies, and the International Liquid Terminals Association represents more than 85 companies, according to the groups.

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