Updated: June 30, 2020 11:52 AM
Created: June 29, 2020 10:11 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a 2-7 vote, the Albuquerque City Council shot down an ordinance Monday evening that would’ve required businesses to pay essential workers hazard pay. The two sponsors of the ordinance, Lan Sena and Isaac Benton, were the only ones who voted in its favor.
The ordinance would have paid workers who make $12 or less an additional lump sum on top of hourly pay. It would have applied to businesses with more than 50 employees.
Opponents of the ordinance said it would have hurt small businesses.
“How many businesses are going to consider getting rid of some of their employees so that they can be under a certain threshold in order to make sure that this doesn't have to happen. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality,” said Councilwoman Brook Bassan. “It’ between shutting up your doors or not being able to employee anybody, then that’s going to be something we need to be willing to take on to our shoulders.”
Both Sena and Benton also proposed temporary paid sick leave. The bill would have required 80 hours of paid sick leave during the pandemic, however it was withdrawn. Councilors said it could be back in another form in August.
“If we don’t defeat the pandemic then we've really got a problem, and when we have people who are poorly paid to begin with, have next to no benefits to begin with,” Councilman Benton said. “These low wage earners, they’re going to be going to work whether they should or not.”
On Monday, councilors approved an ordinance requiring businesses to provide PPE for employees. It will also require businesses to enforce the mask rule to customers coming into those businesses. The ordinance calls for signage to alert customers of that requirement.
In order to help with compliance, the city added a $1 million of help for businesses with 50 employees or fewer.
“It's important because of the rate of transmission,” said Councilwoman Sena. “It’s to protect yourself from transmitting to others as well as having considerations for our community. Me, being immuno compromised, it allows me to have somewhat of a feeling of at ease when I do see community members wear these face coverings."
The mask rule carries a penalty of $50 for businesses that don’t comply.
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