Monday, May 3, 2021 by Drew Phelan
Governor Ned Lamont released a proposal for how the $2.6 billion in federal pandemic relief funds sent to Connecticut from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will be spent. His administration included $10 million to compensate state employees forced to work on site or in the field during the pandemic. While the governor acknowledged that the matter is one for collective bargaining, he seeks to unilaterally set the total amount of money spent. The administration further indicated that state officials have “identified” 14,000 workers to whom the money would be sent.
While some news outlets report this as $1,000 per employee, $10 million divided by 14,000 is actually just over $700.
Clarity here is important. First, unions in SEBAC have joined the rest of organized labor in pressing that federal funds be used to provide all essential workers — public and private — pandemic hazard pay.
That’s why we are supporting the proposals in the General Assembly that would provide $5 per hour for workers forced on site during the pandemic. The measures would also provide $10 per hour for those at specific risk due to the nature of their work, such as those in congregate settings (nursing homes, group homes, corrections facilities), health care workers, and first responders. If the bills passed in their current form, workers would receive between $10,000 and $20,000 on average — far more than Governor Lamont’s proposed $700.
There is a very long way to go between bill and law, and certainly those higher amounts may end up compromised before and if resolution is reached (earlier versions of the bills would have put the amounts closer to between $2,000 and $5,000). But suffice it to say, both the scope of the governor’s proposal and its manner fail to do justice to the sacrifice made by so many essential workers, public and private.
The unions in SEBAC remain committed to advocating for fair pandemic compensation for all essential workers.
Click here to send a message to the governor urging him to support the pandemic relief proposal for all essential works.