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Bridgeport public workers want ‘heroes pay’ for the pandemic

Bridgeport, Connecticut, City Hall
Jerry Dougherty
/
Wikimedia Commons

Leaders from Bridgeport municipal unions urged Mayor Joe Ganim and the City Council on Wednesday to provide additional pay for their work during the pandemic. Union leaders want the city to use the American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide “hero pay” to these essential workers.

Dave Dobbs, president of the Bridgeport Firefighters Union, said the money is a way to recognize public employees for their sacrifices.

“The city has been given a very unique and historic opportunity to not only tell us they appreciate us but to show us and they can show us consistent with the guidelines established by the federal government," Dobbs said.

Dobbs said the use of the funds allows a pay increase up to $25,000 for essential workers, according to the federal guidelines. He said he and other frontline workers were mandated to come to work every day and put themselves in harm's way, and they deserve to be paid for that.

“The time is now,” he said.

Sherrie Weller, president of AFSCME Local 1522, which represents firefighters, police officers, teachers and other public facilities staff, said, “pandemic hero pay is the least we can do to thank frontline workers for their sacrifices, and there were many sacrifices.”

She said these workers were out “day in and day out” protecting the community and deserve to be paid.

The municipal workers have been excluded from the conversation, Dobbs said.

“We have sort of been kept out of any meaningful discussion as it relates to the American Rescue Plan Funds that the city was awarded," he said.

The city has held public hearings to ask residents how the $110 million in federal funding should be spent through 2024.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.