Advocates are calling for $50 million in funding in order to enforce a law that is meant to curtail the spread of airborne illnesses like COVID-19 in New York workplaces.
The measure, approved last year over the objections of business organizations but with the backing of labor groups, includes provisions such as requiring workplaces to provide personal protection equipment and breaks for hand washing.
As proposed by the group ALIGN, the money in the state budget would be used for enforcement, outreach, education and training as well as help small businesses with upgrades, such as adding new ventilation.
The law, known as the HERO Act, was approved last spring by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At the time, groups that represent businesses in New York argued the measure placed too many burdens on private entities and could open them to lawsuits.
But advocates have argued the measure is necessary to protect New York workers -- especially low-income workers and people of color -- from the spread of airborne illnesses.
"We all want our economy to get back on its feet, and NY HERO is a crucial tool for our state’s recovery," said Maritza Silva-Farrell, the group's executive director. "We must honor the sacrifices of essential workers by protecting them and all workers, throughout this pandemic and for whatever comes next."
State lawmakers on Monday took testimony on the development of the workforce in New York, which has undergone significant changes and strain over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.