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Call for More Worker Protections Goes Beyond Vaccine and Coronavirus Measures

Provided Photo
Workers Center of CNY/Jessica Maxwell

Workers advocates here in Central New York are calling attention to protections they say are needed in a wide variety of job categories.  

The Workers Center of CNY and the Essential Workers Coalition, Food Chain Workers Alliance, & NY Immigration Coalition hung a banner on an I-81 overpass Wednesday shaped like a giant mask that read “Protect New York Heroes”.  Workers Coalition Executive Director Jessica Maxwell says essential workers are more than just health care and emergency workers.  They’re farmers, food processors, laundry workers and teachers.  

“The people that do the essential work in our community should not be in that situation where they can’t even pay their own bills.  They’re doing that work so the rest of us can have all the services that we need access to in our lives and we need to make sure we’re treating them fairly and justly.”      

The group is demanding for the NY Hero Act to be passed in Albany.  The bill would create enforceable health and safety protections at workplaces across New York.  Maxwell says essential workers need more than praising words—they need action.

“The vaccine is a piece of this and when workers are not vaccinated, they need to be as soon as possible because we continue to see workers at work sites where appropriate (safety) measures are not being taken.”

She says the protections in the measure cover conditions above and beyond those raised during this current pandemic.  If passed, she believes moving forward workers would be better prepared.

“We were caught off guard and didn’t have a appropriate workplace protections already.  So this sets an infectious and airborne disease standard.”  

The New York Hero Act passed in the State Senate at the end of February. Now, advocates are pushing for the Assembly to follow suit.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.