Shellye Davis, Executive Vice President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO and a longtime paraeducator in Hartford Public Schools, made the following statement in response to Labor Committee’s proposal on pandemic hazard pay for essential workers:
"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.
"Providing an essential worker who worked full-time throughout the pandemic with a one-time hazard payment of $2,000 seems like the least we should do to honor their sacrifice.
"It is easy to forget that early in the pandemic, essential workers didn’t have regular access to N95s. Vaccines were still a distant dream. But Gov. Lamont deemed them essential with the stroke of a pen. And yet they showed up to work every day despite their fear.
"As a paraeducator, I have seen firsthand how COVID-19 has affected essential workers in my school in Hartford. During the pandemic, we had paraeducators, school safety officers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and secretaries who continued to show up to school. Some fed our students, others delivered laptops and conducted welfare checks for students who were not showing up for remote learning. They showed up to take care of our children and many ended up contracting COVID. Two staff members in my school community died. This proposal would recognize their sacrifice and the sacrifice of all essential workers regardless of where they worked.
"I want to thank the Labor Committee and particularly the co-chairs, Sen. Julie Kushner and Rep. Robyn Porter, for raising this critical issue for all essential workers."
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