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Posted on: September 8, 2021

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Announces City’s First Use of American Rescue Plan Funding

Contact: David Galin 

City of Albany to Provide Non-Union Employees with 3% Retroactive Wage Increase in 2021; Mayor Sheehan to Propose Additional 3% Non-Union Wage Increase in 2022 City Budget

Frontline Employees Continued to Deliver Essential City Services During Pandemic, Including Picking-Up Garbage & Recycling, Keeping Parks Clean, Ensuring Water Safe to Drink, and Responding to Emergency Calls, and City Hall Staff Worked Tirelessly to Ensure Frontline Employees Had the Resources they Needed to Fulfill their Mission

ALBANY, NY – Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, Common Councilmembers Alfredo Balarin, Sonia Frederick, and Joyce Love, COVID Task Force Co-Chair Mike Whalen, Operating Engineers & Building Trades President Mike Lyons, Albany Permanent Professional Firefighters Association President Rob Mengel, and scores of City employees who literally risked their lives over the past year and a half to announce the City of Albany will provide:

  • Premium Pay to all unionized employees equaling $2 per hour worked between March 17, 2020, and March 17, 2021
  • A 3% raise to all non-union employees retroactive to January 1, 2021, with an additional 3% raise for all non-union employees proposed in Mayor Sheehan’s 2022 City Budget
  • An additional $1,000 stipend to each non-union employee who served as a City Hall Ambassador and put themselves in harm’s way to ensure we could be open to our residents

Under the American Rescue Plan Act, Premium Pay is designed to target workers who “faced heightened risks due to the character of their work.” U.S. Treasury guidelines define essential work as “involving regular in-person interactions or regular physical handling of items that were also handled by others.” Premium pay is an hourly stipend for eligible work, in addition to the wages these workers otherwise receive, and is designed to prioritize pay for lower income workers. The average payment to union employees will be approximately $3,700. Nearly three-quarters of all unionized City employees will receive between $3,000 and $5,000. Premium Pay to the City’s unionized workforce will cost approximately $3 million (3.76% of total stimulus funds received).

Most of the City’s non-union workforce was not eligible for Premium Pay. As a result, Mayor Sheehan also announced a 3% across-the-board wage increase for those non-union employees, retroactive to January 1, 2021. The City will also provide an additional $1,000 stipend to those non-union employees who participated in the Ambassador Program and put themselves in harm’s way to ensure City Hall was open to City residents. Additionally, Mayor Sheehan announced her first 2022 City Budget proposal: an additional 3% across-the-board raise for all non-union City employees. 

The City of Albany did not provide an across-the-board wage increase in the 2021 City Budget due to the fiscal uncertainty and lack of clarity as to whether the American Rescue Plan would be passed. Over the past 13 years, the City’s non-union workforce have only received five across-the-board raises, of which those raises were only 1% or 2%. Nearly 50% of the City’s non-union workforce earns less than $50,000 per year. The initial 3% across-the-board wage increase will cost the City approximately $650,000.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “Over the past year and a half, this workforce has risen to the challenges put before us. When our nation shut down, you quickly pivoted to ensure we continued to deliver essential services. DGS crews continued to pick up trash and recycling. AFD and APD continued to respond to emergency calls. We continued to provide safe drinking water, we continued to ensure children had safe and engaging activities, and we continued to cite building code violators and ensure development could continue. And our City Hall staff worked tirelessly to ensure our frontline employees had the resources they needed to fulfill their mission. Our workforce literally risked their lives for our community, and I am so deeply grateful and proud of each of them.

“Today’s announcement would not have been possible without the passage of the American Rescue Plan and the leadership of President Joe Biden, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Paul Tonko, as well as the support of City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, Chief City Auditor Dr. Dorcey Applyrs, Common Council President Corey Ellis, Common Council President Pro Tempore Kelly Kimbrough, and Common Council Majority Leader Ginnie Farrell, and I thank them each for their continued support of our city workforce.”

City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar said, “Thanks to President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Gillibrand, and Representative Tonko, Albany can provide retroactive raises and premium pay to our hard-working road, water and sanitation crews, police officers, firefighters and administrators who showed up to work when our state had to shut down.  Without the assistance of ARPA, we would not be able to afford to do this, and we would also be in an extremely precarious financial position caused by COVID.  Their understanding of the particular challenges that cities face is most welcome and appreciated.”

Chief City Auditor Dr. Dorcey Applyrs said, “The COVID-19 Pandemic has illuminated disparities in access and outcomes in all areas of quality of life including, but not limited to, health, education, childcare, employment and financial resources.  Yet despite these disparities and their impact on City of Albany employees, our employees stepped-up in a major way and made the ultimate sacrifice as true public servants.  An initial spend down of American Rescue Plan Funds in the amount of roughly $3 million to cover Premium Pay for our unionized workforce is an investment that demonstrates gratitude for our frontline heroes who sacrificed to protect and promote the quality of life for our City residents and workforce while risking their own lives. Equally, providing a 3% retroactive across-the-board wage increase in 2021 to our non-union employees demonstrates gratitude for the commitment and exceptional public service demonstrated during the pandemic to ensure City services and the payment for these services continued in the midst of unprecedented times. Furthermore, Mayor Sheehan’s proposed additional 3% across-the-board raise for all non-union City employees in her 2022 City Budget proposal, is an investment in the City’s workforce. Given the City’s non-union workforce has only received five across-the-board raises in 13 years, of which were only 1% or 2%, this proposed raise is long overdue. The proposed raise increase sends a message to our employees that they are valued and the City is committed to remaining competitive in this job market.”

Common Council Majority Leader Ginnie Farrell said, “The pandemic has been difficult for everyone in our community. We are fortunate our City employees came together to make sure that all services continued through the pandemic. Honoring their hard work with premium pay funded by the American Rescue Plan is a good first step in acknowledging their importance to Albany. As we continue to fight the pandemic, these dedicated employees are vital to the health and safety of our community. As someone who fights for recognition and pay for our workers, I applaud Mayor Sheehan's leadership in recognizing Albany front line workers and prioritizing funding from the American Rescue Plan for these hometown heroes.”

The City of Albany will propose both Premium Pay and the initial 3% across-the-board non-union wage increase at its next E&A Meeting on September 21. City employees are scheduled to receive their respective payments in October.

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