For Immediate Release – January 26, 2021
Patrick Nevada, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-866-9065
Amid Alarming COVID Vaccine Delays, New York Labor Unions Call on State Legislature to Enact Immediate Workplace Protections Against the Virus
Unions send letter to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie, calling for passage of the New York HERO Act to Prevent Spread of Covid-19
New York – New York’s essential workers can’t wait months for a vaccine against COVID-19. They need immediate workplace protections now against the lethal virus. That’s the blunt message of a letter several unions sent today to the state’s legislative leaders, calling for swift passage of the NY HERO Act (S1034/A2681).
The legislation would require the state to create mandatory, enforceable health and safety standards for all workplaces, which would protect workers and businesses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“New York’s workers have rightly been called heroes throughout the pandemic, for caring for our sick, delivering critical supplies, and keeping our state moving through the emergency. It is a tragedy that so many have died in this service and that so many continue to work without protections from COVID-19,” the letter reads. “While the state moves to vaccinate workers we know it may be months before many of our members have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Workers simply cannot wait for vaccines to be administered while continuing to work without adequate protections.”
The legislation was developed by the NY Essential Workers Coalition, a coalition convened by ALIGN, made up of over 85 unions, worker centers, immigrant rights organizations, legal service providers, health, climate, and safety organizations. Last week, the New York State Senate’s Labor Committee approved the bill with unanimous approval from the Democratic members of the committee.
“New York’s essential workers and businesses can’t wait months for vaccines. They need immediate protections against COVID-19 as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising across the state and country,” says Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of ALIGN. “The NY HERO Act can provide those protections only if the state legislature and Governor Cuomo passes it without delay. It will save lives, protect small business, and provide permanent protections against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.”
“To stop the second wave, we need to stop workplace spread of the virus. Nearly 40,000 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19, and over one million have tested positive for the virus. Many of the dead are our members who were infected in the course of their jobs,” the unions wrote in the letter. “Workers in New York have worked without masks, gloves, or access to sanitary facilities, without being informed of positive tests in their workplace, crowded into spaces where they could not socially distance from coworkers, and without protections from retaliation if they demanded safe working conditions.”
The letter comes as new variants of COVID are spreading and positive cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase.“We urge you to quickly pass this legislation so no more workers die preventable deaths. The best way to celebrate our heroes is to keep them safe on the job,” the letter states.