Local health workers who work in the city’s jails say they are not currently receiving the same overtime pay as other city employees who have been deemed “essential.”

The approximately 500 members of District 1199C NUHHCE, many of whom are people of color, are being told they must go to work in the city jails every day and they are continuing to do so, according to union executive president Chris Woods.

However, because the union members are contracted employees, they have not seen the bump to one-and-a-half times their salary that city officials promised “essential” employees last week.

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“The money has been earmarked for city employees only,” Woods said. “Because they don’t technically work for the city of Philadelphia, they are not eligible for the time-and-a-half pay.”

The union has contacted the Kenney administration, and the two parties have discussed the issue.

“We take those concerns seriously,” said Kenney administration spokesman Mike Dunn, adding that “the mayor’s office of labor is currently looking into it.”

Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney said that all essential city workers will receive an increased rate of pay for working during the coronavirus outbreak due to the increased hazards associated with working during this time. The pay raise applies to police officers, firefighters, prison guards, sheriff’s officers and and other essential public safety workers.

According to the city, the regulation adopted by the Civil Service Commission providing additional pay applies only to city employees who are directly involved with the coronavirus response or are providing and supporting critical operations, and does not apply to contract workers.

Members of 1199C who are currently required to report to work daily at the city’s prisons include nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, technicians and social workers.

“They are the medical staff at the prisons that provide all of the health care services to the inmates, so I would assume that they should definitely be looked at as essential employees,” said Dionne Gary, administrative organizer for the union. “The work at the prisons can’t be done without them. They risk the same dangers as correctional officers and others that are in harm’s way.”

Disclosure: Staff writers of The Philadelphia Tribune are members of District 1199C NUHHCE.

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