New Report: The NY Hero Act Will Protect Amazon Workers as the E-Commerce Giant Expands in New York
Today, at an Amazon warehouse facility in Long Island City, Queens, leaders of the NY Essential Workers Coalition released a new report and held a rally on how the NY HERO Act will protect Amazon workers as the e-commerce giant expands in New York.
In New York and nationally, Amazon’s e-commerce workers have contracted COVID at alarming rates and been vulnerable to injury and even death on the job. The NY HERO Act will function as an effective workplace safety law for the growing number of New Yorkers employed by Amazon. The legislation is the first-of-its-kind in the nation to create enforceable health and safety standards to protect Amazon workers and other frontline essential workers against infectious airborne diseases like COVID.
Governor Cuomo faces mounting pressure to sign and implement the NY HERO Act immediately. The report and rally today came as Amazon continues to open new e-commerce warehouses in New York and engage in union-busting as its workers try to organize to improve the quality of their jobs.
Speakers at the rally and report release in Long Island City, Queens also noted that the NY HERO Act will enable New York state government to hold Amazon accountable for retaliating against workers and exposing them to harm, instead of protecting them and making their jobs better. As the largest e-commerce corporation, Amazon sets the standard for how the industry operates and treats employees.
Participants at the rally included: New York State Assembly Member Karines Reynes, lead co-sponsor of the NY HERO Act; members and leaders of the NY Essential Workers Coalition, a statewide group made up of over 75 unions, worker centers, immigrant rights organizations, legal service providers, health and safety organizations, and community-based organizations. Leaders and members of ALIGN, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Teamsters, RWDSU.
“As our new report shows, thousands of Amazon’s workers in New York would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the NY HERO Act. If implemented quickly and aggressively, the NY HERO Act will protect the growing number of New Yorkers employed by Amazon. It will make Amazon’s e-commerce warehouses safer places to work. That’s why we’re calling on Governor Cuomo to sign and implement the NY HERO Act immediately. Enforceable workplace standards can mean the difference between life and death. The NY HERO Act would be the first state law in the country to require all businesses, including Amazon, to protect workers against the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne infectious diseases,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, the advocacy organization that developed and released the new report on how the NY HERO Act will protect Amazon’s workers.
“Amazon has seen unprecedented gains during the pandemic while the rest of the nation struggled through the economic downfall caused by COVID. This is and has always been possible because of the exploitation of workers at the hands of Amazon. Employees are forced to work in already poor conditions and have been denied PPE by Amazon. We cannot allow Amazon to prioritize profits over the safety and health of its workers any longer. We must pass the NY HERO Act to establish workplace safety guidelines that will keep employees safe,” said New York State Assembly Member Karines Reynes, a lead co-sponsor of the NY HERO Act.
“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. I appreciate the support for this proposal from my colleagues in both houses and so many organizations throughout New York and I know we are all urging the Governor to sign this bill,” said New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and a lead co-sponsor of the NY HERO Act. “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. I appreciate the support for this proposal from my colleagues in both houses and so many organizations throughout New York and I know we are all urging the Governor to sign this bill.”
The NY HERO Act directs the state Department of Labor to put in place lasting health and safety protections, including protocols around face masks, PPE, social distancing, and airflow. It also gives workers a say in the enforcement of those standards through workplace Health and Safety Committees.
More than 100 community and labor organizations have backed the legislation.