Eradicating COVID-19 and Protecting Workers

The NYS AFL-CIO and its affiliates have worked tirelessly to enact safety standards and protocols for essential workers throughout the pandemic and to ensure that those workers and their families who have become sick or died receive the medical care, wage replacement and death benefits necessary. Passage of quarantine sick leave, death benefit and workplace safety standards for public sector workers and a slew of related executive orders and guidance from various state agencies on these issues are just some of the ways we have fought the effects of COVID-19.

These efforts will remain front and center in 2021 now that essential workers and vulnerable populations are eligible to receive the vaccine. We support immediate enactment of legislation to ensure all workers get four hours of paid leave to get the vaccine. This will both encourage those who are questioning whether to get the vaccine to move forward and for those eligible, it will quicken the pace to get vaccinated.

Further, passage of the NY HERO act will establish statewide protocols that private sector employers must follow to combat COVID-19 and any future outbreaks of infectious disease. This builds on the public sector legislation that was signed in 2020 and will not only help keep workers safe but will help employers stay safely operational and avoid the general confusion and chaos that came from a lack of leadership from the federal government.

We will also continue to seek improvements in the workers compensation system to ensure that those workers who keep our health care system running during any future emergency are taken care of if they are injured, become ill or die as a result. Whether through legislation or administrative action, we must ensure the medical and family needs of these heroes are met.

Mario Cilento, President