April 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Two Queens lawmakers are demanding that essential workers receive hazard pay for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Assembly Member Aravella Simotas and State Sen. Jessica Ramos sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders on April 14 urging them to use a portion of the federal stimulus funds allocated to New York to compensate workers putting their lives in danger.
“The frontline essential workers risk their lives every day and all New Yorkers owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude,” Simotas and Ramos wrote in the letter. “The state should use a portion of the federal stimulus funds provided to New York as a result of the COVID-19 crisis to adequately compensate and support those who are putting their lives on the line.”
The temporary hazard pay would go to healthcare workers, as well as anyone deemed an essential employee during the pandemic–including grocery store employees, nursing home employees, transportation workers, cleaning and maintenance crews and others.
“In the face of an unprecedented global pandemic, our essential workers have truly stepped up,” Simotas and Ramos wrote in a joint statement. “Many of these employees are working despite a shortage of proper personal protective equipment, commuting on crowded public transit, or putting in more hours than typically expected.”
The workers are risking their own health as well as their families, the lawmakers noted.
“Our state must do everything it can to ensure a just compensation for those who are putting their lives on the line every day,” they said. “That begins with hazard pay for essential workers.”
Cuomo is in favor of hazard pay, but is asking the federal government to provide it.
He called on the federal government at his daily briefing today to designate funds for specifically for hazard pay. Cuomo said that essential frontline workers should get a 50 percent bonus.
He said the workers, such as healthcare professionals, police officers, firefighters and grocery store workers, deserve more than just a thanks.
“They are the ones that are carrying us through this crisis,” Cuomo said.
These workers don’t have the luxury of working from home and are exposing themselves to potential infection, Cuomo said.
“Pay them what they deserve,” he said. “I would say, hazard pay — give them a 50 percent bonus and I would do that now.”