HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters is urging the city administration to provide hazard pay to city employees who worked during the COVID pandemic. That compensation would include up to $13 per hour of essential work.
“I believe they’re entitled to that and there’s money there,” said Tommy Waters, Honolulu City Council chair.
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Waters said, that payment would come from federal COVID money. The city received nearly $400 million to combat COVID impacts and according to Waters, there’s still a pot of money available to repay city workers.
“There’s still a significant chunk left. We should spend that money to compensate our City employees who put their lives on the line really. At the time we didn’t know how dangerous COVID was,” Waters said.
United Public Workers Union State Director Kalani Werner said in a statement:
“We appreciate Chair Waters’ recognition of the important role our UPW county workers played during the COVID-19 pandemic despite their risks of exposure. They should have received additional premium or hazard pay during the public health emergency and now that it is over, it is time to make them whole.”
However, as far as how many city employees and from which departments would benefit from hazard pay is yet to be determined.
“First we have to determine who actually was working during COVID and two, how exposed were they to the coronavirus and three, how much up to $13 are they entitled to,” said Waters.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he needs further details on the resolution but is confident the city can reach an agreement that is satisfactory for everyone.
“You come from a place of instead of saying no, we’re saying no we’re very open to making sure those people who were actually in situations that were deemed hazardous that we don’t turn our back on them now,” said Blangiardi.
In October, Hawaii Government Employees Association won its dispute with Maui County over temporary hazard pay. About 1,300 Maui County employees are receiving an up to 25% pay increase for working two years under COVID emergency orders.
Kauai and Hawaii County are currently in arbitration with HGEA over COVID hazard pay.
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Meanwhile, the Honolulu City Council will hear its resolution on Wednesday.