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How New York State Can Protect Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis


The New York Health & Essential Rights Order, or NY HERO, is a proposal for a New York State executive order that would require all businesses to adopt enforceable health and safety standards to protect workers on the frontlines and mitigate the risks of exposure and spread of COVID-19. NY HERO will protect the 2.2 million frontline workers in New York State who have no choice but to leave their homes and report to work in sectors deemed “essential,” and will apply to many more workers as New York State moves to re-open the economy in the coming weeks and months.


NY HERO creates enforceable standards and protocols that must be followed by businesses to protect all workers. This executive order would allow New York State to act immediately and issue the following requirements without delay:

Protecting Worker Health and Safety
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE must be provided at all times by the employer to all workers without exclusion. *This order will not lower the standards for existing PPE that the employer has agreed to issue to any work group.
  • Physical Distancing: Employer must maintain a minimum of six feet between workers and will require reconfiguration of spaces where workers congregate. This requirement will also apply to workers who travel via employer operated or controlled transportation.
  • Hand Hygiene: Employer must ensure availability and access to handwashing facilities and provide workers with the time to wash and sanitize hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Disinfection and Deep Cleaning: Employer must clean and disinfect the facility at least once a day. In cases where a worker is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, employer must close off affected workplace areas and conduct cleaning and disinfection.
  • Notice to Workers and Local Health Departments: Employers must inform workers of possible exposure to COVID-19 and provide notice to the local health department.

Protecting Workers Rights During the Crisis
  • Worker Health and Safety Committee: Safety councils in each workplace will allow workers to come together and raise health and safety concerns to the employer. For workplaces covered by a CBA, the union will designate the appropriate committee and determine composition.
  • Prohibition on Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers who raise concerns or provide information about workplace health and safety practices or hazards related to COVID-19 to the employer or the public.
  • Refusal to Work Under Dangerous Conditions: When employer fails to improve conditions, workers will have the right to refuse to work under conditions that the worker reasonably believes would expose them, other workers or the public to COVID-19.
  • Enforcement: Remedies under Section 215 of NYS Labor Law are available to the Commissioner of Labor, workers, and worker representatives to enforce the executive order. This includes administrative and private right of action.
  • Joint Employer Responsibility: All workers must be treated equally with respect to the order’s mandates, and companies that contract out some or all of their labor are responsible for the mandates of this order for all contracted and subcontracted workers.

Download detailed version of NY H.E.R.O.


New York State must step in as a leader to address the challenges in slowing the spread of infection among workers and within our communities. To date, there is no comprehensive mandate that protects the health and safety of all frontline workers. While outbreaks continue to grow among workers across the country, and despite thousands of worker complaints, OSHA has refused to formally investigate any complaints from essential workers outside of the healthcare industry. Employers continue to be largely bound by mere guidelines during this crisis, and we cannot risk any more worker lives, or the lives of their families and communities. Enforceable health and safety standards are needed now and must be done in preparation for a second wave of COVID-19 in New York.

ENDORSERS (list in formation, please email to endorse):

9/11 Environmental Action


African Communities Together

Alianza Agricola

ALIGN: Alliance for a Greater New York

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181



Center for Popular Democracy

Citizen Action of New York

Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU

Communications Workers of America District 1

Community Resource Center

Community Voices Heard

District Council 37, AFSCME

DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Freeport Workers Justice Center

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Joint Council 16

GCC/IBT Local 2N

IBT Local 27

IBT Local 202

IBT Local 210

IBT Local 237

IBT Local 272

IBT Local 282

IBT Local 295

GCC/IBT Local 406

IBT Local 553

IBT Local 707

IBT Local 802

IBT Local 804

IBT Local 810

IBT Local 812

IBT Local 813

IBT Local 814

IBT Local 817

IBT Local 831

IBT Local 901

IBT Local 917

IBT Local 966

IBT Local 1205

Jobs with Justice

Jobs to Move America

Kinetic Communities

La Colmena

Laundry Workers Center

Legal Aid Society

Long Island Jobs with Justice

Make the Road New York

National Day Laborer Organizing Network

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Employment Law Project

New Immigrant Community Empowerment

New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health

New York Communities for Change

New York Immigration Coalition

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

New York State Nurses Association

New York Working Families Party

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson

Northeast NY Council for Occupational Safety and Health

People’s Climate Movement NY

Public Employees Federation

PUSH Buffalo

Queens Climate Project

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

Sierra Club

Street Vendor Project

Strong Economy for All

Transport Workers Union of America

Transportation Alternatives

UAW Region 9A

UAW Local 2320

UFCW 1500

UFCW Local 2013

United Community Center of Westchester, Inc.

United Federation of Teachers

United Steelworkers Local 9544



Western NY Council for Occupational Safety and Health

Worker Justice Center of New York

Worker Justice Project

Workers Center of Central NY

Workers United New York New Jersey Regional Joint Board

Workplace Project