All essential workers should receive hazard pay for pandemic sacrifices and contributions
HARTFORD, Conn. —The following statement may be credited to Rochelle Palache, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and head of the union in Connecticut.
“We were deeply disappointed that Governor Lamont has abandoned the needs of essential workers in his budget proposal today. Despite signals to the contrary, we had faith that the Governor would eventually agree to commit a small portion of the budget surplus to compensate all of those who have given and suffered so much these past two years. Among the excluded are grocery store clerks, home health aides, bus drivers, as well as our union’s 5,000 janitors, security officers, food service workers, early childhood education personnel and building service tradespeople. Hundreds of our members contracted the virus during the first terrible year of the pandemic, many of them spending time in the hospital and over half a dozen never returning home. While we appreciate the aid proposed to support poorer residents, it cannot replace the direct compensation of hazard pay, which would return symbolic dividends far greater than its budgetary cost. By contrast, the lack of that commitment seriously erodes the trust of our members, the majority of whom are Black, brown and immigrant workers, as well as the trust of all essential workers making choices in this tight labor market. The legislature now has the responsibility to amend the budget to finally prove that the phrase ‘essential worker’ isn’t simply a euphemism for ‘expendable worker’ when coming from the mouths of politicians.”
With over 175,000 members in 12 states and Washington DC, including 5,000 in Connecticut, 32BJ is the largest building service workers union in the country.