Senate Deputy Leader Gianaris, Assembly Member Reyes Announce Governor Signs N.Y. Hero Act Into Law

Gianaris/Reyes Law Mandates Enforceable Safety Standards to Protect Against Airborne Diseases in Workplaces

NEW YORK – Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Karines Reyes announced the New York HERO Act (S.1034-B/A.2681-B), a critical bill requiring businesses to have enforceable safety standards to prevent further spread of coronavirus and other airborne diseases, was signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit. The New York HERO Act will honor their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “I appreciate the efforts of so many advocates and organizers who made this success possible.”

“I am honored to have sponsored the NY HERO Act that was borne out of my very own experiences serving as a nurse on the frontlines during the peak of the pandemic. It is crucial that workers are able to operate in a safe environment and have the full support of New York State,” said Assembly Member Karines Reyes. “I want to thank my colleague Senator Mike Gianaris for carrying this bill in the Senate and the countless advocacy groups that have relentlessly fought to get this vital legislation signed into law. New York now has the tools it needs to ensure that it can get on the safest path to recovery.”

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN and a key leader of the NY Essential Workers Coalition that successfully fought for the NY HERO Act, said “The relentless organizing of essential workers is what forced Governor Cuomo to sign the NY HERO Act. We are grateful to New York State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Karines Reyes for their tireless and effective leadership on the NY HERO Act from day one of this campaign. As New York moves toward a full re-opening in the weeks ahead, the NY HERO Act will play a key role in protecting essential workers and businesses across the state. This law is a major new national precedent for how to create enforceable health and safety protections for workers on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic and give workers a voice on the job through health and safety committees. On behalf of the essential workers coalition-- a statewide group of over 70 unions, worker centers, community organizations, legal service providers, immigrants rights groups, and health and safety advocates i am thrilled to see the NY HERO act signed into law.”

Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Labor Committee, said “The NYHERO Act has been signed into law. Throughout this pandemic, workers across our state have put their lives and the lives of their families at risk to keep New York running. By requiring businesses to have enforceable safety standards through the NYHERO Act we honor this sacrifice by reaffirming New York State’s commitment to strengthening our labor laws to protect our workers on the job regardless of how unprecedented a circumstance.”

The NY HERO Act, or the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, requires the Departments of Labor and Health to implement enforceable minimum standards for workplace safety. The regulations must include protocols on testing, PPE, social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection, and engineering controls. Workers would also be given a direct role in monitoring and reporting violations through workplace health and safety committees and employees would be protected from retaliation for utilizing their rights under the law.

The NY HERO Act is supported by more than 100 labor, community, and safety organizations, including the AFL-CIO. The legislation passed the Senate Labor committee in January. Senator Gianaris and Assembly Member Reyes wrote an op-ed in The Buffalo News highlighting the importance of the NY HERO Act.