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Essential workers encouraged to apply for 'hero pay' as deadline approaches

Eligible Minnesotans may apply for the Frontline Worker Pay Program by July 22 at 5 p.m.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Hundreds of thousands of frontline workers kept Minnesota running at the height of the pandemic and now a deadline is quickly approaching for them to get rewarded.

While it's unclear how much money any one individual could get under the state's Frontline Worker Pay Program, the Governor's Office is encouraging all eligible frontline workers to apply by July 22 at 5 p.m. If your application is denied, there will be a 15-day period to appeal.

In a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, essential workers like Starbucks employee Kasey Copeland stood alongside Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan as they highlighted the program's progress.

"Someone had to keep all the health care workers caffeinated," said Copeland, who works at Minneapolis' first unionized Starbucks located on 47th St and Cedar Ave S.

"These Minnesotans showed up every day to keep our economy working," said Rena Wong, organizing director of UFCW Local 663, which represents 17,000 essential workers. "Working from home was not an option for them."

Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan touted the state's frontline worker pay outreach toolkit, which is available in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.

"We are trying our best to get this out to you," Gov. Walz said. "This effort, to get this hero pay, while it's real and tangible and puts money back in the hands of folks, it's also symbolic of protection of workers and what really matters."

"Our goal is to take down as many barriers as possible to make this as accessible as possible," Lt. Gov. Flanagan said. "A general information sheet about frontline worker pay is translated into an additional 20 languages."

Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-District 45A) and Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-District 64) co-authored the bill.

"This was such a simple idea and yet it took us nearly two years to get it done," Murphy said.

Gov. Walz signed the bill into law in late April and the 45-day application window has been open for almost a month now.

 "I'm glad to report today that over 901,000 Minnesotans have applied," Gov. Walz said.

While the governor did not provide a dollar range workers can expect to get, he confirmed more applicants could mean splitting an available $500 million among more people.

"Once these are vetted, they're done, the appeals are done, then we'll have a bottom line number," he said.

To see if you qualify for frontline worker pay, visit frontlinepay.mn.gov.

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