City council members propose hazard pay for some city employees on the front lines during the pandemic

WATCH: City council members propose hazard pay for some city employees on the front lines during the pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Essential frontline workers in Memphis could be getting hazard pay as some city council members told FOX13 they believe the workers deserve it.

They are hoping Mayor Strickland will use some of the $113 million in stimulus money from Washington to help local governments impacted by COVID-19.

FOX13 spoke to one city council member about where he wants the money to go.

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Councilman JB Smiley, Jr. said considering this year’s tight budget and no pay raises, hazard pay would be fair compensation for employees who are potentially risking their lives.

There are no pay raises in this year’s proposed city budget for employees because COVID-19 has hurt the revenue streams, but for those essential employees who work out in the public, such as police, fire and sanitation workers to name a few, they might see an increase in their paycheck.

“When you think about the value that they provide for our city the only reasonable thing to do is to compensate them,” Smiley said.

He is talking about giving those city employees something called hazard pay.

“Not only doing their job but also responding to a situation that could potentially expose them to the coronavirus,” he said.

How would the extra money be calculated? Unions and associations told FOX13 they are waiting for the details if it is proposed.

Where would the money come from after dire warnings of a tight budget?

City Council Chairwoman Patrice Robinson sent FOX13’s Greg Coy a text message saying she has asked the mayor to see if he could use some of the $113 million in stimulus money for hazard pay.

And who would qualify for it? Councilman Smiley, Jr said he wants to give it to employees who have face to face interaction with the public and used the police department as an example.

“It is for the guys in the patrol cars. It is for the people in the trenches who are out there putting their lives on the line,” he said.

The unions and city council are looking for the mayor to tell them if he will support or reject the idea.

FOX13 emailed the mayor’s office to find out if hazard pay is something he will propose. The reply we received said that the mayor will lay out his vision tomorrow.

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