Phoenix employees to get premium pay, with vaccinated workers collecting more

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - 5:08pm
Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 8:23am

Thousands of Phoenix employees will get bigger paychecks, thanks to a City Council vote Wednesday. But not everyone’s happy. That’s because employees who prove they are fully vaccinated by Jan. 18, 2022, will get more.

Phoenix Fire Cpt. Tony Dudzinksi told the City Council that’s wrong, “Stop this attempt to divide our city employees and nip it in the bud and say no to this discrimination, and let us say to every city employee that we value everyone, that every worker matters, whether you’re vaxxed or unvaxxed.”

By a 6-3 vote, the City Council approved using coronavirus stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide premium pay. All nonseasonal part-time workers will get $250. If they’re fully vaccinated by, they’ll get $750.  Full-time workers will get at least $500 and those who are fully vaccinated will get $1,500.

A speaker who identified as Brett W., a city employee, told the council everyone should get the same amount, “You are not only discriminating against those that choose not to disclose their medical information to you, which I might add is none of your business in the first place, but you are absolutely retaliating against those people in the best way you can.”

Another speaker, Mayrsa Leyva, opposed the pay for a different reason, “To bribe people with $2,000 to do the right thing for safety when we’re in the middle of a massive surge is ridiculous and a massive misuse of COVID relief money.”

On Dec. 7, Phoenix halted plans for a vaccine mandate after a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction. During that council meeting, nearly 50 people registered to speak against the mandate while a dozen were listed in favor.

Dr. Keith Frey, chief physician executive for Dignity Health Southwest Division, said, "For the past 18 months, our staff has been truly heroic in taking on extra shifts to meet the growing demands and needs of the community, but they are exhausted. We need the community’s help."

Valleywise Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael White told the council earlier this month," We’ve been treating COVID-19 cases for nearly two years, astonishingly, we have more COVID-19 diseased patients today than we did at this time last year when COVID-19 vaccines were not available."

The premium pay for employees is expected to cost between $25 and $29 million and should appear on Feb. 11 paychecks. Mid-level managers, executives and council members are not eligible.

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