PATERSON, N.J. (PIX11) — Front-line workers in Paterson, N.J., are getting their third and final installment of COVID premium pay just in time for Thanksgiving.

Sampson Lockhart has been an employee of the Department of Public Works for 18 years. However, he said it wasn’t until this year that he got a bonus. Specifically, premium pay for working during the height of COVID.

“It’ll help us have a Happy Thanksgiving,” Lockhart laughed. 

Around 1,300 frontline workers got a share of $600,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act that the city earmarked to give to people like 911 dispatcher Robert Connell.

“[I’m] spending it,” Connell said when asked about the money. “Taking the wife out to a nice turkey dinner.”

Paterson said it has already given $3.4 million of the $4 million it received in federal COVID relief funds to those frontline workers.

“It was greatly appreciated because us dispatchers worked our butts off,” said Connell.

“Public Health, Public Safety and also Public Works,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “A lot of those individuals on the back of a recycling truck.”

The DPW workers of this city recall harsh working conditions during the height of the pandemic, including a staffing shortage, but their overall sense was that the city needed them to show up every day.

“I just want to thank all my co-workers for sticking together, doing their best, coming to work and try to make Paterson a better, cleaner place for us all,” Lockhart said.

Not all frontline workers are seen, or rewarded, so for Lockhart, it’s an early gift this holiday season.

“I’m blessed,” said Lockhart. “Very thankful and blessed.”