Resolution in Support of Hazard Pay for New York’s Essential Employees

At its June 2021 regular meeting, the Troy Area Labor Council adopted this resolution.

A Resolution on Hazard Pay for New York’s Essential Employees

Whereas, in the spring of 2020, our state and nation were confronted with a new, highly contagious virus called COVID-19 which impacted every aspect of our social, political and economic life; and

Whereas, in order to keep the virus from spreading and to keep our communities safe, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on March 7, 2020; and

Whereas, on March 22, 2020, Governor Cuomo ordered all non-essential businesses and not-for-profit organizations to close operations and almost every New Yorker was ordered to stay home; and

Whereas, understanding that public and other services needed to be delivered, especially to New York’s neediest and most vulnerable, the Governor ordered that “essential” state employees and other “essential” workers continue to report to work despite the risk to themselves and their families; and

Whereas, throughout this pandemic, “essential” workers served valiantly and with distinction, rendering services to New Yorkers, transporting and stocking grocery and department stores, ensuring the public health and safety and caring for those stricken by the virus; and

Whereas, thousands of public and private sector workers have lost their lives, infected family members and unknowingly spread the virus throughout their communities due to a lack of personal protective equipment and inappropriate guidance rendered by management; and

Whereas, since the onset of the crisis, many private sector employers provided hazard duty or “essential” worker pay to their essential employees to recognize their selfless service, including Northwell Health which provided its essential employees with $2,500 in supplemental pay and 35 hours of additional vacation time; and

Whereas, throughout the pandemic, our state faced serious budget challenges which resulted in a hard hiring freeze and a reduction of 5,000 full time positions and an overreliance on existing front-line staff at state agencies; and

Whereas, in order to meet those budget challenges, the labor movement and elected officials fought for and achieved the American Rescue Plan which provided $12.6 billion in unfettered operating assistance, and other dedicated funding, to close the state’s budget gap and enable the state to increase overall state-supported programming by $7 billion; and

Whereas, despite being characterized as “heroes” throughout the pandemic by the Governor and other elected officials, the 2021-22 state budget provided NO remuneration or recognition for the state’s essential workers who were ordered by their employer Governor Cuomo to risk their lives in service to the state during the pandemic; and

Whereas, New Yorkers appreciate the work of their heroes during this pandemic and EXPECT the state, as an employer, to recognize the work of these heroes; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, we urge elected officials at all levels to call upon the Governor, county executives, mayors, and executive officials at all levels of government to use a portion of the resources provided under the American Rescue Plan to provide for a hazard pay benefit for all essential workers.

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