Labor unions representing hundreds of municipal employees have been demanding hazard or premium pay from the city for their members, who worked through the Covid-19 pandemic, over the past year.
“Many members were not afforded the ability to stay at home or work from home. They were in the front lines putting their lives and their families at risk,” said Terry Woodrow, an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) leader.
Woodrow said she represents health, public works, library, and civilian public safety employees. She urged the City Council and mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration on Tuesday night to compensate employees for working through the pandemic.
“The mayor and the council are considering it, but no decision has been made,” said business administrator Kathleen Long.
Officials said Sayegh has earmarked $1 million from the American Rescue Act funds for so-called premium pay for employees.
Long said the administration and the council have been having conversations about hazard pay for employees.
Some employees submitted petitions last year seeking hazard pay from the money Paterson received through the Cares Act, but it went nowhere.
Councilman Michael Jackson said the hazard pay matter was raised in a personnel committee meeting.
“You madam BA, not anyone else in the administration, absolutely refused,” said Jackson.
Employees renewed their call after the city received $63.7 million via the American Rescue Act. Some council members expressed their support for giving employees hazard pay.
“You put your family at risk. Now it’s time for you to get compensated,” said councilman Alex Mendez.