New Mexico business adds fee to help pay ‘hero bonus’ for employees

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many companies are giving their employees who can’t work at home, ‘hero pay,’ which are higher wages for going to work during the pandemic. One New Mexico business is just starting it but customers are the ones paying for it.

Starting on July 18, MVD Express added a $2.00 COVID-19 fee to customers’ bills. Customers are met with a sign at the business saying the $2.00 helps give its employees a ‘hero bonus’ of $2.00/hr to help their families during the pandemic. Some customers are okay with the fee.

“I think it’s kind of a cool thing. You know, they’re here to perform a public service and a lot of people are rude to them,” Crystal Martinez, an MVD Express customer, said. “So, for $2 extra, the $2 doesn’t bother me, maybe it should be more.”

“That seems like a really good idea,” Mary Holyoke, an MVD Express customer, said. “Depending on the profits of the company, I think they should be doing that, taking care of that themselves and I hope they are contributing to that. But, I’m happy to pay a little extra to make sure the front line workers are taken care of.”

“I guess I kind of take it like taxes in a way,” Abigail Corey, an MVD Express customer, said. “Because we do have to contribute and we know they are essential workers in there and you know, putting themselves out in the danger I guess you can say.”

There is some backlash. Online, someone tagged the company in a post saying the post is not heroic. The company explains why they are giving employees the ‘hero bonus.’

“They’re working under difficult circumstances right now and they’re putting themselves on the line every time they’re at work, helping the public,” Janice Lucero, owner and CEO of MVD Express, said. “And so, we really believe that this pay is so appropriate to help them understand how valued they are for coming back to work and dealing with the public during this difficult time.”

She also explains why customers are pitching in for the bonus. “Every business has to be able to make their budgets work. And certainly, we didn’t have it in our budgets, within our pricing structure to be able to accommodate this and we thought it was really important,” Lucero said.

She explains the company could’ve raised prices to go accommodate the hero bonus but said a fee is more transparent. One customer KRQE talked to said he would like to see more of these fees at other businesses.

“I think if it’s going to be here, I think it should be everywhere else,” John Henry Tolle, an MVD Express customer, said. “Because of equality. If we’re all having to go through the COVID, we’re all having risk, no matter what we do. I think it should go across the board equally.”

While it’s hard to find other businesses doing the same exact charge, companies are giving employees higher wages during the pandemic. The restaurant, Vinaigrette, said it’s raising food prices and doing away with tips to give its employees fairer wages during ‘dangerous times.’

The MVD Express can add the fee since it is privately owned and plans keep the fee as long its workers are working in a pandemic. The MVD, which is operated by the state, does not have a COVID-19 fee.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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