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City Councilors Isaac Benton and Lan Sena Speak About Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Impacts to Essential Workers

City Councilors have sponsored three pieces of legislation to support essential workers during the current public health emergency.

June 24, 2020

Today, Albuquerque City Councilors Lan Sena and Isaac Benton are taking on a comprehensive approach to addressing the impact of COVID-19 on large essential employers, essential employees, customers, and the community-at-large by sponsoring three complementary bills aimed at ensuring public health in the process of reopening the local economy. All three of these bills; O-20-24, O-20-25, and O-20-26, have been tailored by their sponsors to address the stress and impact that Essential Workers have faced during the public health emergency while they have been keeping our city afloat.

While O-20-24 is a preventative measure for ensuring that essential employees are provided with adequate PPE to keep them from contracting COVID-19 from customers and clients, the other two bills are reactive measures for ensuring the health, safety, and financial security of frontline workers who have already performed work that could have potentially been detrimental to the welfare of them and their families.

“Paid sick leave and hazard pay initiatives in response to COVID-19 have been taking place around the country and are intended to support essential employees at the family and household levels where elderly and medically-at-risk populations are the most vulnerable,” said Councilor Sena.

This legislation is being proposed at a time when the City of Albuquerque is encouraging large essential employers with 50 employees or more to take full advantage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). FFCRA is a bipartisan federal bill that created a funding source for qualifying employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Due to the fact that this funding opportunity is only available to qualifying employers until December 31, 2020, the sponsors believe this federal funding will give employers time to prepare for providing their employees with additional leave opportunities. 

These bills are also intended to complement another bill that was sponsored by Councilor Klarissa Peña and approved by the City Council on June 15, 2020, which adjusted the City of Albuquerque's FY2020 Appropriations to provide extra funding for purchasing and distributing PPE to local businesses via the City's Economic Development.

“The Public Emergency Paid Sick Leave bill is building off of an initiative to support essential employees that has been discussed among key community stakeholders and business leaders for years. Local non-profit OLE whose missions is to enrich and empower New Mexico's working families fully endorses the three bills and the overall initiative to support essential employees,” said Councilor Benton.

With cities and states around the country experiencing a second wave of their populations contracting COVID-19, the City of Albuquerque has an opportunity to take coordinated legislative action to ensure that essential employees returning to work do not contract the virus and/or contribute to spreading it into their homes and their neighborhoods.

All three bills will be on the Agenda for Final Action at the Special City Council Meeting on Monday, June, 29th at 3:00 PM.

Councilors Benton and Sena Essential Workers Press Conference