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UFCW 663 leaders help workers apply for frontline worker pay

Deadline to apply is July 22

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Deimili Jimenez (left) and Veronica Orellana were among UFCW Local 663 representatives available to assist frontline workers with applications for the state frontline worker pay program Friday at Panaderia Mi Tierra in downtown Worthington.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — People with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 663 have spent the past several weeks helping local union members complete the application process to receive state funds from the Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay program.

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As of Friday, more than 1,500 workers had received assistance in the application process locally. The state began accepting applications on June 8, with a July 22 deadline to submit requests.

Deimili Jimenez and a trio of UFCW representatives were at Panaderia Mi Tierra, 424 10th St., in Worthington on Friday to help people sign up for frontline worker pay.

The group has set up tables in the bakery in each of the past few weeks, and will continue to do so on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., up until July 22. On Sundays, they offer assistance at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Worthington, and also send a team to other communities to assist applicants.

This Sunday, UFCW reps will be at the Business, Arts and Recreation Center (BARC) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Windom, and on July 17, they will assist people at St. Leo’s Church in Pipestone, also from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other times during the week, frontline workers can receive assistance from the UFCW office in Worthington.

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Individuals who are eligible for frontline worker pay must have worked at least 120 hours in Minnesota between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021 in a frontline sector. These include food service (production, processing, preparation, sale or delivery); schools; child care; courts and corrections; public health and social and regulatory service; emergency responders; health care, long-term care and home care; retail; temporary shelters and hotels; building services; public transit; ground and air transportation services; manufacturing and vocational rehabilitation.

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Jimenez is fluent in English and Spanish, and assists all who need help in completing the online application. When all goes well, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Individuals must bring with them their valid ID or passport, bank account and routing numbers, employer information, phone number, address and email address.

“A lot of people that come here … they’re not familiar with social media or a computer,” Jimenez said. “I had one that didn’t know how to read.”

Workers who speak other languages often bring their own translator with them to help with the application.

The union has offered the service to ensure that those who qualify for the frontline worker pay program get their applications in.

“We’re here to help anyone that needs help,” Jimenez said. “This is their money. They deserve it for all the hard work they did during COVID.”

UFCW Local 663 members include individuals who work in food processing, manufacturing and retail. Their territory spans from the Twin Cities metro through most of southern Minnesota. The union advocated heavily for the frontline worker pay program, and had requested $1 billion to fund it. Ultimately, $500,000 was approved by the state.

As of Thursday, more than 901,000 applications had been received by the state.

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Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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