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Labor Urges Legislature to Fully Fund Pandemic Pay Program

16 Nov, 2022
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Ed Hawthorne and Shellye Davis, President and Executive Vice President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, respectively, made the following statements in response to Comptroller-elect Sean Scanlon’s press conference on the pandemic pay law:

Ed Hawthorne, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO:

The labor movement is grateful to Comptroller-elect Sean Scanlon for doing everything in his power to ensure essential workers receive the benefit they were promised in the pandemic pay law.

Gov. Lamont declared these workers essential by executive order. That meant they were forced to show up to work oftentimes without adequate personal protective equipment, without vaccines, and at great risk to their physical and mental health.

At the bare minimum, the Governor and legislature need to keep their promise to essential workers and fully fund the pandemic pay program. We knew from the beginning that the allocated funding was woefully inadequate. Now that the applications far outpace the available funding, they need to do the right thing and fund the program appropriately.

Providing an essential worker who worked full-time throughout the pandemic with a one-time payment of $1,000 seems like the least we should do to honor their sacrifice and thank them for keeping the economy moving.

Shellye Davis, Executive Vice President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO:

Our state’s essential workers – nurses, fire fighters, grocery store workers, bus drivers, nursing home workers and many others – went to work every day despite the risk to their health and the health of their loved ones. Many died. Even more got sick and were hospitalized. All because they were unable to work from home.

With a projected multi-billion dollar surplus and the largest Rainy Day Fund our state has ever seen, Gov. Lamont and the legislature need to fully fund the pandemic pay program for essential workers. To not make this a priority during a possible special session would be a slap in the face to all essential workers who put themselves and their families at risk to keep our state running.

In fact, this program should be expanded to include municipal essential workers who were left out. Our local fire fighters, police officers, education workers, and so many others are equally deserving of pandemic pay. The program should also include essential workers designated as CDC vaccination category 1C. These exclusions need to be addressed in any upcoming special sessions.

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