NYC essential workers demand hazard pay at hometown heroes parade

New York News

NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City’s Hometown Heroes ticker-tape parade honored front-line workers Wednesday—from doctors and nurses; to grocery, delivery, and bodega workers; to first responders, teachers, and transit and sanitation employees.

Still, thousands boycotted the parade, saying that parades won’t put food on the table—but hazard pay will as the pandemic slows down. “I don’t care where it comes from—city, federal, state—but we deserve it,” said Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano. 

Thousands of essential workers, including paramedics, boycotted the parade that marched up the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan. Many who did appear—from unions like the Transport Workers Union—held up signs with phrases like, “We are essential, not expendable.”

“During the pandemic, our members were out there 24 hours, seven days a week, while people were home being able to go where they had to go because we took them there. And now, it’s time for the government to step up and give us hazard pay,” Utano said along the parade route.

The FDNY EMS union is currently in contract negotiations with the city, with reps fighting for equal pay, too, and at the very least, hazard pay. “None of our members were there unless they were paid or ordered to be there by the department,” added Oren Barzilay, president of the FDNY EMS union.

He went on to say that here we have New York City, where the government received billions in federal aid, money didn’t make its way to essential workers. “Not even a $50 gift card to say ‘Thanks for your work,'” he said.

Along the parade route, New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “One of the issues I have been hearing from front-line workers is hazard pay, and I’m hoping the City of New York negotiates something for the workers who sacrificed every day for others.”

The city released a statement Wednesday night to address the parade without mentioning hazard pay. “New York City gathered in celebration of all the essential workers who got our community through its darkest moments. It was the kickoff the Summer of NYC deserves, and it was the least we could do for our hometown heroes. Today’s about them,” said Mitch Schwartz, a city spokesperson.

A city spokesperson confirmed that officials are in negotiations with EMTs and look forward to a positive outcome, but did not provide any comment on the process.

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