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During this unprecedented time, we have seen the fragility of our economy and the deep inequalities in which we co-exist. Workers who are deemed essential for our survival are the same workers who we have failed as a society to recognize and value. Whether it is their personal health, the safety in their places of work, or their deserved compensation, low wage workers, predominantly immigrants and people of color, are too often the victims of greedy or careless employers who enrich themselves at the expense of their most vulnerable workers. It is time to change course.

This past month, New York State took a major step forward with the passage of the NY HERO Act, giving essential workers a voice when they have concerns about their safety in regard to airborne or other infectious diseases. It also protects workers from retaliation for speaking up.

This one-of-a-kind legislation is signaling to workers across the state that they are valued. New York can become the place where workers are treated with dignity and respect and become a model for the country. Unfortunately, a significant problem that remains prevalent, particularly in the private construction industry, is wage theft.

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