NYC Frontline Workers to Boycott Hometown Heroes Parade: Mayor de Blasio ‘Uses Us for PR Photo-Op’

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 07: New York City Police Department Police Band walk during the "Hometown Heroes" Ticker Tape Parade on July 07, 2021 in New York, New York. Healthcare Workers, first responders and essential workers are honored in Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes for their service during the …
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Thousands of New York City frontline workers are set to boycott the Hometown Heroes ticker tape parade on Wednesday and are citing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership as the reason for their absence.

“Our members have been without a contract for more than three years and did not receive any hazard pay during COVID,” head of the Uniformed EMS Officers Union Vincent Variale told New York Daily News. “This mayor continues to disrespect EMS and all frontline responders and uses all of us for a public relations photo opportunity.”

Sixty members of the city’s largest municipal union are also boycotting the parade. District Council 37 has 150,000 members who are “angry about the city not offering early retirement incentives authorized by the state Legislature last spring.”

City correction officers and city probation officers are sitting the parade out as well, according to spokesmen from both unions. Brooklyn City Councilman Justin Brannan, who is a Democrat, is joining them in a show of solidarity.

“Out of respect for the EMS workers who’ve gotten nothing but lip service from this city for years, I will not be attending tomorrow’s parade,” Brannan tweeted.

Only Local 1508, which represents uniformed Parks Department supervisors, is participating, according to New York Daily News. 

Frontline workers are hoping their absence will bring attention to poor treatment and low pay.

“We believe New York’s brave essential workers should be recognized in a meaningful way, but the public display from the de Blasio administration is all optics and no substance,” said Oren Barzilay, president of the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors union. “It is not the recognition we need, especially for FDNY EMS responders, who make just $16.95 per hour to start.”

“A parade does not supply a home or food on the table for these workers and their families,” he said.

Mayor de Blasio has not commented on the boycott, but his spokesman confirmed the post-parade ceremony is canceled.

The mayor’s spokesman Mitch Schwartz told New York Daily News:

Negotiations with the union are ongoing and we’re looking forward to a fair outcome. We urge all New Yorkers to join us in honoring the frontline heroes who did so much to fight back COVID-19.

Despite working mandatory 12-hour tours since the beginning of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, EMTs and paramedics have not seen a wage increase or any hazard pay — though “some of their counterparts who work for private hospitals and ambulance companies did.”

The average starting salary for a FDNY EMT is $35,254 a year and can go up to $50,000 in five years, according to the report. After five years, a FDNY firefighter can earn more than $100,000 a year, plus overtime and holiday pay.

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