Duggan offers hazard pay for public safety workers, others

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit on Friday became the latest municipality in Michigan to give pay increases for its critical employees when Mayor Mike Duggan announced more than 1,000 front-facing and public safety workers starting Monday will get the equivalent of $800 more per month in hazard pay. 

Mayor Mike Duggan announced hazard pay Friday for public safety employees and other front-facing workers as the the total number of cases of coronavirus in the city rose to 6,228, with 326 deaths.

In announcing Detroit's program, Duggan noted more than 200 city employees have tested positive for the virus between fire, police, building department workers and DDOT bus drivers. 

He had been waiting on Congress to take some action to ensure front-facing workers and public safety employees were getting additional compensation for continuing with their jobs in the face of the crisis.

But those efforts, he said, are “bogged down” and “I’m feeling a need for us to act.”

Duggan first said Monday that he wanted a policy modeled after what is being offered in Atlanta, where workers are getting about $500 in extra pay per month. 

The mayor said he will sign an executive order that will provide for Detroit employees to get the equivalent of $800 a month in additional pay for COVID-19. For most, that will mean another $5 an hour. They can’t pay any of the city’s workforce retroactively. 

For firefighters who work nine shifts per month, it will be $90 extra per shift. 

“We are going to pay our first responders and our public facing employees in other departments,” he said. 

It will apply to fire, police, EMS, health department staff, water department workers, DDOT bus drivers, general services and building department inspectors. It’s six city departments in all over 14 unions. 

For fire, it’ll be battalion chiefs on down and for EMS it’ll be captains on down and for police, command staff and down. For the water department, field technicians and general service workers passing out food and staff testing for COVID-19 at the state fairgrounds will receive the extra pay, the mayor said.

“I intend to leave this order in place as long as the emergency is here,” said Duggan, adding until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer significantly eases her restrictive stay-at-home order. “I wish we could do more because our men and women deserve it but next week I’ll have to be rolling out $100 million in budget cuts.”

The mayor said he had to balance the deserving needs of the city workers “against the pain that all 9,000 employees will feel when we bring the budget in line.”

The mayor said this will cover more than 1,000 city employees. 

He’s still hopeful that the federal government will be able to provide some funding toward hazard pay. 

Detroit, the hardest-hit area of Michigan, on Friday attributed 54 more deaths to the virus and recorded 145 new confirmed cases. The city health department's reporting now brings the total number of cases of the virus in the city to 6,228, and there have been 326 deaths.