From police to city hall employees who work from home, all except the city manager are eligible

Clayton – they may have a smaller workforce than most cities, but 23 workers in this city did their job so heroically during the height of the pandemic that each could receive a $10,000 bonus – from police officers who took to the streets continue to patrol. City Hall citizens who did their paperwork from home.

While the actual amount hasn’t been finalized, the City Council agreed Tuesday to voice about $10,000 of right and directed staff officers to ask Clayton to withdraw “Hero Pay” bonuses from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Some have been asked to take some of the $1.45 million. ,

Under the rescue plan, federal funds are distributed to local governments with the intention of helping them, as well as to businesses, nonprofits and others to compensate for financial losses from COVID-19 and related health orders. is distributed for.

Clayton City employees who could be paid a one-time bonus are nine police officers and sergeants, six maintenance staff and eight administrative staff members. Only city manager Reina Schwartz didn’t get the bonus.

Although a staff memo notes that five of the eligible employees began working for the city after March 2021, while 18 others were part of “the earliest and most challenging COVID responses”, the council indicated that all additional money Because the pandemic still continues as mutations such as delta and omicron variants keep the coronavirus in full force.

Councilman Karl Wolff said of the Omicron version, “This version is going largely the way it is going.” “Our heroes are still there… When do we get federal money to help our people?”

Clayton City Council discusses Hero Pay for City employees during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, January 4, 2021. (screenshot)

Local governments across the country have ordered some companies to pay extra wages to some frontline workers during the pandemic. Last year, for example, Santa Clara County began requiring grocery stores to pay their employees $5 an hour on top of their regular wages, and some cities including oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley Adjustment Soon followed suit.

But for the most part, local governments shy away from paying their employees equal pay. Santa Clara County bucked that trend in October when the board of supervisors decided to offer Hero Pay bonuses to nearly 22,000 employees, also with money from the American Rescue Plan Act. Full-time employees received $2,500 and part-time workers received a pro-rata deduction of that amount.

The board’s decision drew some public criticism, including from county employees who felt they were entitled to money for working on the front lines and risking their health, while other colleagues worked at home. Stay on Observer Otto Lee avoided voting, calling the $2,500 bonus “too generous”.

And on Wednesday, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority reached a tentative contract agreement with its largest union—which represents bus drivers, mechanics, light-rail operators and other essential workers—that included a one-time appreciation bonus of $3,500 .

In Clayton, the council’s discussion about hero pay stemmed from a letter sent by the police union.

Rich Anna, president of the Clayton Police Officers Association, explained in the letter that police officers on the front lines risk their lives and one also contracted COVID-19 last year.

Anna wrote, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, every police officer has stood firm and continues to work to protect this wonderful city.” “While other city workers were able to work from home, our police officers did not have that option.”

Assistant city manager Laura Hofmeister told this news organization that administrative staff worked remotely during the early part of the pandemic, while most were reporting to city offices in small groups within a few months.

And since the city last fall required employees to have full vaccinations, all are now except one who was exempted for medical or religious reasons, Schwartz said.

After increasing the Omicron version late last month, Schwartz told employees they must receive a booster shot by February 1 if it’s been more than six months since their last dose.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Deborah Espina criticized the city for wanting to offer larger bonuses to well-paid police officers, while she, an essential worker, did not qualify for $1,500 in cash aid from the city because her Earnings exceeded the threshold of $47,950. He didn’t say what his job was.

“Given the traffic that I commute to work every day, a lot of us are out there,” Espina said. “We are from the first two weeks of the pandemic, we are facing the public. .. It seems a bit outrageous that we are excluded from this one installment and we have to look at these other guys who make a lot of money with a $10,000 bonus.

The city says it has set aside money for businesses and individuals who can prove they have lost money due to the pandemic. But council members said they were surprised that few of them had actually applied for the money – far less than $200,000.

“We heard so much from everyone that they wanted these funds, and now nobody is taking them,” Wolff said.

Counselor Jeff Wan said the city should do more outreach so people know relief funds are available.

“Please sign up, because we want to give you money” is a very good pitch. I don’t know if you need more than that,” Wan said.