Civil Service Commission denies essential workers request for emergency pay during pandemic

Updated: May. 26, 2020 at 3:20 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -The Civil Service Commission denies a request from New Orleans essential workers. They requested emergency pay during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. If granted essential workers would be entitled to one and a half times their normal hourly rate.

“We’re absolutely disappointed because what is the intent of the rule if not to pay the people who are working on the front lines and being exposed to these conditions. To me, that’s the nature of the rule itself,” said New Orleans Fire Fighters Association President, Aaron Mischler.

“It’s disappointing the commission didn’t see things the way that our members see it. The police officers in this city, the firemen, the ems employees who are out there risking their safety everyday to provide to the city. We think the rules are pretty clear, in my opinion, and, I think they should follow the rules,” said Donovan Livaccari with the New Orleans Fraternal Order of Police.

A City Hall Spokesperson released this statement in response to our request for comment:

"Payment for our police officers and firefighters is governed by the rules of the Civil Service Commission. The Commission decided today, May 26, 2020, that the specific rule in this case (Civil Service Rule IV, Section 11.1(a)) does not apply to the current situation. That rule does not authorize “hazard pay”; it provides a different “emergency pay” rate for essential personnel who are required to work while City offices are closed for a declared state of emergency. During this emergency situation, however, City government has remained open for business, and non-critical employees were instructed to continue working remotely if possible.

“The City and our residents are deeply grateful for our front-line responders, and proud of their work. Unrelated to the issue of emergency pay, the City is currently exploring and advocating for additional funding options that may qualify under the CARES Act for our first responders, and it is our hope that this additional compensation will be approved.”

We also reached out to the Civil Service Commission about this story. In a statement,the commission said:

“We appreciate the service of all of our essential and nonessential employees. While we recognize the work and the sacrifices that our employees are making to keep our city and our citizens safe, we carefully reviewed the arguments and the substance of our emergency pay rule. That rule applies when the Mayor instructs only essential employees to report to work during a state of emergency. In this case, both essential and non-essential employees have been reporting to work, including working remotely. Therefore, the emergency pay rule does not apply. This is the first of many conversations about emergency pay for our frontline employees. It is our goal and intention to do what is right for these employees through a thoughtful more comprehensive approach that includes an understanding of the emergency pay that may be awarded by other legislative bodies. It is important to us to understand that before making a decision of this magnitude.”

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