NEW ORLEANS - Today, the City Council unanimously passed Resolution R-20-136 authored by Councilmember Williams calling for the provision of hazard pay for frontline workers in the next federal coronavirus stimulus package. New Orleans relies heavily on essential workers, such as first responders, health care professionals, transit operators, grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, childcare providers, and more, to keep the city functioning.
"Everyone is singing the praises of our frontline and thanking them for their sacrifice. Sanitation workers and other essential workers have risked infection and bringing that infection back home to their families every day since this crisis began. They deserve more than just a pat on the back. We, as Americans, must take meaningful steps to protect those people and industries that have endured the highest physical risk of exposure to this virus. The federal government should institute a hazard pay protocol that funds these employers so they can properly pay out hazard pay to those residents taking the most risks to get us through this. If the federal government can fund forgivable loans to huge publicly held corporations, they certainly can fund hazard pay for first responders, RTA drivers, sanitation workers, and the like," said City Council President Jason Williams.
Given the crushing impacts of COVID-19 on the U.S. and global economies, local governments and small businesses have been unable to provide adequate pay increases and fair compensation for these workers who continue to put themselves at risk each day. Therefore, the resolution also asks that such funding structure prioritize those workers with the greatest risk of exposure, as an overly-broad interpretation could result in too few dollars to go around.
Council President Williams has been able to coordinate a meeting between striking sanitation workers and Metro Disposal to discuss hazard pay and other concerns brought up amid the coronavirus pandemic this Friday.
He continued, "I hope we can have a thoughtful, productive discussion of the issues and hopefully identify a workable path forward."