As the Corona virus ravages the city, it is no surprise that there are many public workers are among its victims. These workers are the backbone of the city. Some of these workers have given their lives in performing their duties. These sacrifices warrant recognition. Many union contracts provide for increased compensation when a death occurs in the line of duty.
As Irene Spezzamonte reported on silive.com on April 4, there is growing support among elected officials on Staten Island for recognizing the deaths of city workers who have succumbed to the coronavirus as having died in the line of duty.
Councilman Joseph Borelli, a Republican representing the South Shore of Staten Island, is cited as one local official who supports this effort. He is quoted as stating “the line-of-duty death designation should apply to anyone with a city contract who is deemed an essential worker, from police officer to bus operator, should they lose their life after contracting the virus while working.” The article notes that 1,839 NYPD members have tested positive for the virus and eight of them have died. Two FDNY employees have died of the virus to date. WABC news reported on Friday that 50 NYC Transit workers have died due to the Corona virus.
State Senator Diane Savino, a Democrat who represents the North Shore of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, has noted there is precedent in legislation that was passed to address the needs of city workers who became ill after responding to the 9/11 attacks.
During this emergency, many city employees were designated as essential workers who had to continue working while many of us were urged to shelter in place in the relative comfort of our homes. We have a responsibility, indeed an obligation, to make sure that the workers who are risking their health and their lives to keep the city running are fully supported.
Dealing with the Corona virus is stressful enough without worrying that your family will be provided for in the event the worse should happen.
Please urge your elected officials to pass legislation granting public workers who give their lives in dealing with this crisis “Line-of-Duty” death benefits.
Luke T. O’Brien is a native New Yorker who has lived in Queens all his life. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies and retired after 35 years with New York Homes and Community Renewal.