Meghan McCain: Essential workers should be paid double

“The View” co-hosts are continuing to anchor their show from their own separate quarantines and on Tuesday, the women discussed a hot topic on many people’s minds: Should essential workers like grocery store clerks and delivery drivers be treated like first responders? Meghan McCain had strong thoughts on the matter.

McCain, who is pregnant, said she has been relying on Amazon delivery for packages and her husband has been going to the grocery store once a week, since she is high risk and must be quarantined at home during the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve been reeling about this for weeks that I think anyone who is doing any kind of essential work for us right now should not only get hazard pay but should have their pay doubled,” she said.

McCain, the daughter of the late Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, admitted she is normally “the last person on planet Earth that ever wants the government to give any kind of financial handout to anyone.”

“But I think these people are putting their lives on the line, putting their families at risk, just for us to be able to get our groceries and needed packages, and whatever else,” she said. “I think everyone from truck drivers to janitorial workers to anybody anywhere who is out still working in this kind of environment should absolutely be given hazard pay.”

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The other co-hosts agreed with McCain. “They are frontline workers at this point,” Sunny Hostin said.

While nurses, doctors and other health care workers are obviously on the frontlines of this pandemic, several other workers are continuing to operate, too, and often don’t get recognized for it.

Delivery drivers and essential store employees continue to put themselves at risk of getting coronavirus every day, and for that, some companies are providing extra perks for their dedicated employees.

Trader Joe’s announced this week they will close all of their stores on Easter Sunday, April 12, “to give our incredible Crew Members a much needed day of rest.”

Target has also given employees new benefits for working during this crisis. “For weeks, our incredible front-line team members have played a crucial role as families turn to Target during the coronavirus pandemic,” the company’s website reads. “On top of the $300 million+ team investment and paid leave we’ve already committed to, we’re also setting aside dedicated time for our store and distribution center team members to shop for essentials, such as food, baby products and medicine.”

Some companies, however, have faced backlash. Many Amazon workers say the company’s “to-the-door” delivery demands could make them sick. Drivers and warehouse workers at Amazon say they lack protective equipment and aren’t given enough time to wash or sanitize their hands.

Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company’s Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City. / Getty Images

About two dozen Amazon workers in the company’s Staten Island, New York, distribution facility walked off the job Monday to protest what they call the company’s foot-dragging on protecting staffers from the coronavirus.

Workers at Monday’s rally, which was streamed on Facebook, chanted “Shut it down!” and said that there were 10 cases of positive COVID-19 tests in the building.

Whole Foods employees also called for a nationwide “sick out” on Tuesday. Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, was criticized for initially not giving its employees sufficient sick pay and suggesting workers should lend each other days off.

Amazon has taken steps to reduce the chances that workers could get infected, the company told CBS News in an email last week. Amazon also announced it is boosting pay by $2 an hour to a minimum of $15 an hour.

The company said it would raise overtime pay to be double a worker’s regular rate of pay, up from the standard 1.5 rate. It is also moving to hire 100,000 new associates as it faces record demand for its services. However, Amazon has not allowed its workers to stay home and still get paid. While workers are currently allowed to take unlimited time off work without pay, many can’t afford to do that.

Workers for another grocery delivery service, Instacart, have made similar complaints and also staged a walkout. In a statement emailed to CBS News, Instacart said their first priority is “the health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees.”

In response to Amazon’s statement that it is taking steps to help workers, McCain said “taking steps sounds like PR to me.”

“I mean, [Amazon founder] Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people in the world,” McCain said, adding that Bob Iger, chairman of Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC Television, gave up his own paycheck during this time. “I just don’t think our country could function without our truck drivers and our Amazon workers and they’re doing such an imperative job for so many Americans,” she said.

“I implore Jeff Bezos and whoever the CEO of Instacart is to really do the right thing right now,” McCain said. 

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