Updates from the Committee on Workplace Safety

NYS Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and NYS Department of Labor Announce Immigrant Workers' Rights Awareness Weekend
Statewide outreach events happening this weekend
May 12, 2011

Today Assembly Members and the NYS Department of Labor teamed up with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Comptroller John C. Liu and federal safety representatives to kick-off the first annual New York State Immigrant Workers' Rights Awareness Weekend, happening this Saturday and Sunday (May 14-15) across New York state.

This weekend, participating elected officials, city, state and federal agencies, community based organizations and activists will join together across the state to spread awareness in multiple languages about workers' rights on-the-job regardless of immigration status. These organizations will also inform immigrant workers about the services (both government and non-profit) that are available to them.

According to the Department of Labor Bureau of Immigrant Workers Rights (DoL) immigrant workers are less likely to approach government agencies for many reasons, including language barriers, not knowing what agencies can do for them, fear of government, and trouble getting to government agencies during office hours.

"This weekend is about letting immigrant workers know that they have the same rights to a safe workplace as every other worker," said Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Chair of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and co-sponsor of New York State Immigrant Workers' Rights Awareness Weekend.

“It is critical that our immigrant workers, who are the backbone of so many industries here in New York, are fully informed of their rights and have the resources they need to fight workplace violations," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I applaud the state’s enormous efforts to bring city, state, and federal resources to communities throughout New York.”

“The best way to protect workers on the job is to empower them with information. By educating and informing New York’s immigrant workers, these forums will lead to safer workplaces,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-New York).

"Many times innocent employees report to work and perform their duties as expected but are not fully compensated. It is important for immigrant workers to know their rights and not be afraid to speak out. My office will continue to fight for those who have been shortchanged on the jobsite," said New York City Comptroller John C. Liu.

“New York has been greatly enriched by the many contributions made by immigrant workers to the economic and social fabric of our state. The Division of Human Rights joins the Department of Labor, elected officials and community-based organizations in this effort to educate them about their rights under our law so they can continue to lead healthy and productive lives while gainfully employed," said Commissioner Galen D. Kirkland, New York State Division of Human Rights.

"The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor appreciates the opportunity to participate at the State-wide events this weekend to increase awareness of workers' rights with regard to the laws that we enforce. We are committed to ensuring that all workers are paid at least the proper minimum wage and overtime," said Maria L. Rosado, District Director, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.

"Every worker, without exception, has the right to a safe and healthful workplace," said Robert Kulick, Occupational Safety Health Administration's regional administrator in New York. "Through outreach and education, we strive to inform workers of this right and their right to a voice in the workplace when it comes to their safety and health. We want all workers to return home healthy and whole at the end of each work day."

"Federal, state, and local labor laws are meant to protect all workers regardless of whether they are recent immigrants or whether their ancestors came over on the Mayflower," said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn). "This weekend's events will help to remind us of that fact."

"America is built on hopes, dreams, and honest labor of immigrants. It is important that we continue to recognize our heritage and guarantee justice in all phases," said Assembly Member Jack McEneny (D-Albany).

“Our economy and our country have enjoyed the contributions of immigrants through their hard work, perseverance, dignity and the dream that living with these values will lead to a better life for them and their children,” said Assembly Member Carl Heastie (D/WFP, Bronx). “We should do all we can to ensure that they know their rights and that they are protected.”

"There is a large population of immigrant workers in Western New York," said Assemblymember Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo, Grand Island). "Many of them may be fearful of the authorities or confused by the process of getting their paperwork in order. I want to communicate to them that they have rights, too, and to help them work legally and safely in New York State."

"As Chairman of the Task Force on New American's it is a real privilege to be asked to participate in this important statewide event. As an immigrant myself, I know first hand how hard it is experience the obstacles many of these people are facing on a daily basis, it can be extremely frustrating and discouraging. Every worker needs to know we are there to protect their rights," said Assembly Member Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Brooklyn).

“Immigrants are an essential part of our communities, our workforce, and our economy, contributing over $200 billion in economic activity in New York City alone,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh who serves on the Assembly Labor Committee. “It is our duty to make sure that workplaces are safe and immigrants have the information and legal protections they need. I am proud to be joining Assemblymember Rory Lancman in sponsoring an Immigrant Workers’ Rights Awareness event in my district and I applaud him for his tremendous work on this and the many other initiatives he has undertaken to promote worker safety.”

"I am proud to be co-sponsoring the Staten Island event for this statewide initiative with Councilmember Debi Rose. We should never forget that we are a country of immigrants and that workplace safety is a right for all of our residents, regardless of their immigration status. This event gives us the opportunity to educate Staten Islanders about their rights and the services available to them,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone (D-Staten Island).

Assembly Member Michael DenDekker (D/WFP- Jackson Heights) "urges the community to come and hear about Labor Law protections, Workers' Compensation, your health and safety at work plus various other kinds of information on different community services. I feel this is a great opportunity for everyone to know and benefit from all the rights, services and protections allowed by law."

"As a daughter of immigrants and the only Asian-American in the New York State Legislature, I believe this weekend will serve well to ensure that our community fully understands their rights as employees and are rightfully protected. My office which assists a vast majority of new immigrants from all of New York State will also be on site that day to help coordinate the services offered by all the different agencies," said Assembly Member Grace Meng (D-Queens).

"Through the experiences of parents who came to Corona, Queens from Ecuador, I have seen first hand the obstacles that immigrants face: whether it's from hiring discrimination, intimidation, or even the simple struggle to have documents in your native language. It is a top priority of mine to protect immigrants, the people who have made New York and Queens their home just like my parents did many years ago, from abusive and dangerous environments--and that's why I'm thrilled to be a part of this statewide effort to bring resources and activists together to help raise awareness for immigrant workers’ rights," said Assembly Member Francisco Moya (D-Queens).

"We can no longer accept immigrant workers filling jobs critical to our economy without receiving fair wages and benefits. This weekend's event is a step towards making sure that they are aware of all the rights they are entitled to as employees. We will continue to work with the immigrants’ rights community as well as the different federal and state agencies to assure this goal is accomplished," said Assembly Member Sam Roberts (D-Syracuse).

"I'm elated to be involved in the inaugural New York State Immigrant Workers' Rights Awareness weekend. We must ensure fairness of workers' rights regardless of origin or status throughout the state all while promoting the need to treat one another with dignity and respect. This weekend's event will provide us the platform to both raise awareness and stand united with our immigrant brothers and sisters," said Council Member Debi Rose (D/WFP-Staten Island).