Essential workers demanding governor mandate workers comp if they catch the coronavirus on the job

Connecticut

NEWINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Essential workers are asking Governor Ned Lamont to issue an executive order mandating worker’s compensation if they catch COVID-19 on the job. 

Addressing the issue at his daily briefing, the governor said he and his team are looking into it.

“It’s not easy at work. People just aren’t getting this social-distancing part of the whole crisis,” said Stop & Shop meat cutter Joe Jarmie.

“Two of our union members have died of COVID-19. Many others have lost time at work, some in quarantine, others in hospital with COVID symptoms,” said Anna Karwowski, a building cleaner for UConn Health Center.

Their unions, part of the AFL-CIO Connecticut umbrella, are asking Governor Lamont to sign an executive order guaranteeing worker’s compensation, including lost wages for essential workers struck down by coronavirus.

“Already we’re hearing from our members that hospitals, their employers, are telling them that they can’t be sure that they got [COVID-19] at work. Which personally I think is ludicrous. They are exposed over and over without the right personal protective equipment,” said Dave Hannon with CHCA District 1199.

Meanwhile, on the federal level, Senator Richard Blumenthal says he and other Senate Democrats will push for hazard pay for frontline employees like grocery store workers. The proposal includes $13 an hour on top of base pay and is retroactive to when the crisis first began.

“A recognition and reward for their stress, anxiety, anguish, what they go through literally every day. It would go to health care workers, postal, police, fire, everybody who is public-facing,” said Blumenthal.

The announcement was made outside Stew Leonard’s in Newington Monday. Clerks held placards detailing pandemic safety measures they work hard to adhere to as they meet unprecedented demand.

“It is a little stressful working on the grocery stores, but I would never have it any other way. We love helping people,” said one worker who gave her name as Jenny.

Blumenthal says he hopes to pass the hazard pay proposal sometime this week, possibly in the next federal stimulus package. 

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