COBA Secures Landmark Legislation for Officer Benefits Related to COVID-19 Absences
With the advent of COVID-19, COBA leadership knew that they had to take action on behalf of the correction officers, both for the sake of their careers, their health, and the health of their families. Across the nation, COBA saw the devastating effects of the pandemic and watched organizations attempt to mitigate the impact of the virus to varying degrees of success. COBA knew that it was essential to take action in a swift and meaningful way — New York was, in fact, one of the states most affected by COVID.
Working with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, COBA was able to help implement legislation that prevented public employers — like the New York City Department of Correction — from taking any disciplinary or retaliatory action against public employees for their COVID-19-related absences. This means that employees can take the time they need to keep other officers and inmates healthy as well as ensure that officers are less likely to bring the virus back home to their families. Given that COVID-19 took a heavy toll on our officers, this action corrects the injustice experienced by over 800 of our members who were punished for taking leave because of their COVID-19 symptoms and ensures that, in the future, officers are protected and able to take time away from work in these circumstances.
We are incredibly grateful for the allies we had as we took up this initiative and who joined us in this fight. Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Peter Abbate played an essential role in advocating alongside us and ensuring legislation moved quickly through the Senate and Assembly so our members were able to become — and remain — protected. Through the advocacy of COBA President Benny Boscio and the COBA board, members received back pay, a wage increase, holiday pay, and other benefits. Fighting for and resolving issues like these is an essential part of what COBA exists to do and we’re proud to be able to secure victories like this one on behalf of COBA members.