For Immediate Release: November 24, 2020
Patrick Nevada, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-866-9065
Alex Moore, email@example.com, 347-762-0778
Statewide Coalition of Community and Labor Organizations Demand Health and Safety Legislation as the Covid Second Wave Hits New York
NEW YORK, NY – Over 65 unions, worker centers, and community organizations representing millions of workers across the state sent a letter to legislators today, calling for legislation to keep workers safe as New York is hit by a second wave of Covid-19. The NY HERO Act would mandate the Departments of Labor and Health to implement enforceable safety standards in workplaces and establish worker safety committees to monitor and report compliance. Members of the coalition, named the NY Essential Workers Table, represent workers in hospitality, healthcare, restaurant, nail salon, sanitation, and other key industries affected by the virus.
“After so many workers gave their lives to get New York through the first wave, we must listen to workers this time and ensure that they have legal protections to prevent exposure once again,” the letter reads. “As we sit on the cusp of a second wave we urge the legislature to pass the NY HERO Act without delay and make New York a national model in protecting workers, communities, and small businesses during this ongoing crisis.”
The NY HERO Act, announced and soon to be introduced by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Karines Reyes, would establish requirements for testing, face masks, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Every employer in the state would be required to follow these standards, which will be enforced by DOL through investigations, fines, and legal injunctions.
“The second wave is here and New Yorkers are demanding a plan to keep them safe,“ said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN NY. “Nearly eight months since the start of the pandemic, we are again seeing cases and hospitalizations rise, and small businesses shutting down, while big corporations like Amazon are thriving. Black and Brown communities were hit the worst on the first wave and we cannot let this virus devastate those communities again. That is why there is broad grassroots support across the state for the NY HERO Act, so that New Yorkers have more tools to fight and survive this virus.”
In addition to the letter, the coalition launched a digital campaign yesterday including a website that features worker stories, as well as animated short video that depicts the sacrifices workers made during the pandemic. The coalition will be gathering signatures for a petition directed toward the state legislator to pass the NY HERO Act.
“During the first wave, workplace transmissions were a key driver of Covid-19 spread, particularly in Black and Brown communities where essential workers never stopped working,” the coalition wrote in the letter, “Preventing workplace spread is critical for preventing a second wave and keeping these communities safe.”
As corporations like Amazon are celebrating record profits during the pandemic, the coalition will be participating in Cyber Monday action at Jeff Bezos’ New York City apartment on November 30th to raise health and safety issues. “Small businesses are threatened with more shutdowns, while the worst employers act as superspreaders,” the letter reads. Amazon has released their own data showing that over 20,000 of their employees had been infected by the virus.
The letter comes as New York logged almost 6,000 cases in a single day on Monday, and the country reached new levels of cases and hospitalizations. “We know that every day counts in keeping people safe and healthy. We are urging the legislature to pass the NY HERO Act as soon as possible to help stop the second wave of Covid-19,” the letter states.