Already underpaid, these frontline workers deserve support to keep themselves and their families safe

See the list of coalitions & organizations below

NEW YORK – Twenty-two coalitions and organizations representing thousands of nonprofit organizations across New York State are joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call this week for the federal government to provide hazard pay for essential public workers on the front lines.

The proposed 50 percent bonus would provide critical support for a workforce that is underpaid and disproportionately women of color, and the organizations are committed to working with the governor’s office to ensure that these workers have all the support they need.

The nonprofit human services workforce includes over 400,000 people across New York, many of whom have been designated essential workers by the Governor’s New York State on PAUSE order and by state agencies. They are going to work every day and providing lifesaving services in their communities, staffing group homes for youth and homeless shelters, delivering meals to homebound seniors and families, providing critical services to formerly homeless persons and families with disabilities, and offering care for survivors of domestic violence. This work cannot be done remotely and becomes increasingly urgent as COVID-19 jeopardizes the health and economic stability of a growing number of New Yorkers.

As these hundreds of thousands of workers carry out essential functions, many lack the protections to guarantee their and their families’ safety. Nonprofits and workers are struggling to obtain necessary protective equipment, putting them and their families at risk every day. And this workforce is disproportionately women (80 percent), people of color (over half), and underpaid. The majority (60 percent) of human service workers qualify for public assistance, with an average salary of $27,830.

Michelle Jackson, Acting Executive Director of the Human Services Council (HSC):“Governor Cuomo was absolutely right with this proposal, and we will be right alongside him as we take this fight to D.C. We must ensure that our workers are properly compensated for putting themselves and their families at risk to provide care and support for those impacted by COVID-19 and all our communities.” HSC represents nonprofit human services organizations across New York State.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York: “NYS has recognized that many different workers are essential to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our human service workers who cannot work remotely deserve to be recognized and compensated for their necessary and precarious work. Compassion, courage and professionalism have been characteristic of their efforts.”

Amy Dorin, President & CEO of The Coalition for Behavioral Health “Governor Cuomo is standing up for our frontline workers, who are putting themselves and their families at risk every day to help individuals with behavioral health challenges and keep these individuals safe and out of the hospital. We stand with the Governor to secure the federal support necessary to make this a reality in New York.”The Coalition for Behavioral Health represents 100 community-based behavioral health agencies.

Jim Purcell, CEO of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies:“We thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in calling for increased pay for our frontline workers. Our staff leave their own families every day to go out and support the children and families in New York State as essential human services providers. We absolutely agree with the Governor that our staff deserve this increase in their pay and recognition of their incredible efforts as a vital part of the COVID-19 response.”

Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC): “Asian American, immigrant, and low-income community members are essential workers on the front lines of this crisis, including many in the human services sector. Yet City- and State-contracted human services organizations cannot afford hazard pay, even as we continue to put our own lives on the line to ensure that the highest-risk communities are fed, housed, and educated during this crisis. We applaud Governor Cuomo and join him in calling for the federal government to fund hazard pay for all essential workers, including human services workers.”

David Dyssegaard Kallick, Deputy Director and Director of Immigration Research at the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI):“Women, immigrants, and people of color are disproportionately the ones to work in these jobs that are always essential and now also put workers at risk. Compensating essential workers with hazard pay is a way to ensure fair treatment and also equity in the workplace.”

Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY:“We applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the need for the federal government to provide frontline workers additional pay for their work during this difficult time, and we look forward to working alongside the Governor in seeing this fight over the finish line. All first responders, including those providing services to seniors, have selflessly stepped up to serve our communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.Increased pay for all of these individuals is a small, common-sense act of gratitude that our government can take on behalf of the American people who have benefited from this life sustaining work.”

Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS):“We need the strong voice of the State’s leadership to advocate that the human service workforce be part of the definition of essential workforce. The heroic frontline staffs in mental health, addictions disorder, developmental disabilities, aging, child welfare, domestic violence and food insecurity all should be part of any definition of essential workers. In the human service workforce, over 80% percent are women and over 40% are women of color. The Governor has done an extraordinary job of highlighting the importance of our workforce to respond to the COVID-19 challenges. We need to make sure that our human service sector is recognized as an integral part of that workforce.”

Tom McAlvanah, President of New York Disability Advocates: “We are grateful Governor Cuomo recognizes the need for hazard pay for the essential workers during this public health crisis. Like hospital workers, the direct support professionals who provide round-the-clock, hands-on care to tens of thousands of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities in residential facilities are on the front lines every day putting their own health at risk and should be recognized for their selfless commitment to caring for an extremely vulnerable population.”

William Gettman, CEO of Northern Rivers: “We applaud the Governor’s leadership and call to action on behalf of frontline workers who sacrifice and take on risk to care for at abused and neglected children, youth in foster care, and families in need.”

Laura Mascuch, Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York:“The Network and our 200 nonprofit members are thrilled that the Governor is including the staff of supportive housing as meriting hazard pay. These ‘essential workers’ have been on the frontlines trying to protect the very most vulnerable New Yorkers – those who had been homeless and struggle with disabilities – at their own peril. This is a much-needed recognition of their incredible service in these unimaginably hard times.”

Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York: “Every day in this pandemic, nonprofit human service workers continue their essential work caring for the most vulnerable in our community. We thank Governor Cuomo for trying to secure hazard compensation for these courageous, and deeply deserving New Yorkers.”

List of coalitions and organizations:

  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York
  • Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State
  • The Coalition for Behavioral Health
  • Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies
  • Chinese-American Planning Council
  • Fiscal Policy Institute
  • FPWA
  • Homeless Services United
  • Human Services Council
  • InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.
  • LiveOn New York
  • Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS)
  • New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc.
  • New York Disability Advocates
  • Northern Rivers
  • NYS Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs
  • NYS Care Management Coalition
  • NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, Inc.
  • NYS Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
  • UJA-Federation of NY
  • United Neighborhood Houses
  • Supportive Housing Network of New York

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Contact: Charles Kretchmer Lutvak, charles@risaheller.com, 917-748-3096