NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Karines Reyes on January 7 announced the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act (S.1034), a critical bill requiring businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, has 15 co-sponsors across the Senate and Assembly. The state legislature began their annual session this week.
Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris said, “Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit. The New York HERO Act will honor their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job. I appreciate the support for this proposal from my colleagues in both houses.”
Assembly Member Reyes said, “During the pandemic, we have seen profits rise at the expense of the health of our essential workers who do not receive essential protections. We must pass the NY HERO Act to ensure that corporations profiting off of the labor of our communities are doing their fair share in ensuring that those workers are able to do their jobs safely. Corporations and the wealthy have amassed billions in wealth while thousands of their workers have gotten COVID-19. We cannot continue to allow the wealthiest Americans to continue to build their wealth on the backs of minimum and low wage workers who suffer due to unsafe working conditions.”
Mario Cilento, President, New York State AFL-CIO said, “Right now, unlike public sector workers who have protections, there are no statutory protocols for private sector workers in terms of how to respond to infectious diseases. If this pandemic has taught us anything, with tens of thousands of workers succumbing to this virus, it’s that we need to make the health and safety of workers a priority. The NY HERO Act will serve as a necessary template to ensure the safety, health and well-being of everyday working heroes now and into the future. It would be a shame if we don’t learn from this terrible situation. Passing the HERO Act will save lives, plain and simple. We thank Senator Gianaris and Assembly Member Reyes for sponsoring this bill and for leading this effort. And we will work as hard as we can to ensure its passage.”
The NY HERO Act, or the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, would require the Departments of Labor and Health to implement enforceable minimum standards for workplace safety. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Employers would be permitted to establish individual regulations for their businesses that exceed state requirements.
Workers would also be given a direct role in monitoring and reporting violations through workplace health and safety committees that would be empowered to raise complaints and report violations. The bill would protect employees from retaliation for utilizing their rights under the law.
The NY HERO Act is supported by more than 100 labor, community, and safety organizations.
Senate co-sponsors include Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos and Senators Brian Benjamin, Andrew Gounardes, Robert Jackson, Rachel May, Julia Salazar, James Sanders, and Diane Savino.
Assembly co-sponsors include Assembly Members Chris Burdick, Carmen De La Rosa, Richard Gottfried, Donna Lupardo, Michael Montesano, Nily Rozic, and Rebecca Seawright.
The video of the virtual press conference held on January 7 is available on YouTube.