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Essential workers, union leaders and elected officials are pushing for legislation that would mandate workplace safety standards for Covid-19 and establish industry-specific worker committees to determine what those standards will be.

hough not yet introduced, the NY HERO Act, sponsored by Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, and State Sen. Michael Gianaris, would include fines for businesses that rack up violations and encourage workers to monitor and report them, along with guarantees the workers would be protected from retaliation.

“We don’t depend on drivers of their cars to keep to a certain speed; we have rules and regulations. Without enforceable standards, many people would die on the highway. That’s what happened to essential workers during the last pandemic,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Association. “In every field, whether it’s an industry where you get your food, you get your transportation, [or] communication, all of those workers are at risk. And without those enforceable standards, we continue to be at risk."

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