Hochul signs new wage and safety protection laws on Labor Day

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
September 6, 2021- Buffalo, NY- On Labor Day, Governor Kathy Hochul signs legislation to boost workplace safety and ensure workers are being paid prevailing wages.

Gov. Kathy Hocul signed four new laws on Labor Day to increase workplace safety and wage justice.

“On Labor Day every year, we’re reminded of the vital contributions of organized labor to building New York, and that’s why I’m signing four pieces of legislation to help workers thrive across our state,” Hochul said.

By signing these four pieces of legislation, Hochul aims to create safe working conditions while also making sure workers are paid fair wages and receiving good benefits.

Specifically, the bills establish a program to implement speed violation monitoring systems in work zones (S.4682-B/A.485-B) to promote work space safety for road construction crews. Also, another new law (A.3350-A/S.2766-C) holds construction contractors liable for the wages owed to employees of all subcontractors working on the project.

The bills (S.6350-A/A.7434-A) also require the payment of prevailing wage to building service workers at high-end co-ops and condos and extend Shared Work Benefits to promote fair and just wages.

While New York already has a “Move Over Law” and reduced speeds in construction sites, work space safety is still an ongoing issue, according to one of the bill sponsors.

This new legislation establishes a program implementing speed violation monitoring systems in work zones by means of photo devices. Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, commented on the new laws, “when it comes to keeping our roads safe, New York needs to prioritize both motorists and the highway workers who dedicate themselves to improving and maintaining our infrastructure every day.”

The new prevailing wage requirement will only apply to high-end co-ops that can afford to sustain good jobs. This new legislation will allow for workers and their families to begin earning family sustaining income.

The sponsor in the Senate, Brian Benjamin, now the lieutenant governor, said, “Luxury apartment buildings that can afford to provide prevailing wages and benefits to building service workers should be required to do so. These essential workers put their lives on the line everyday during the pandemic to keep New Yorkers safe and should be treated with respect. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for recognizing their importance to the New York City economy by signing this bill.”

The legislation on Shared Work Benefits (S.4049/A.5678) has changed from 26 straight weeks to allowing workers to avoid being laid off while working reduced hours and receiving Partial Unemployment Insurance benefits.

Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, D-Bronx, reacted to these new laws by commenting, “New York is committed to preserving jobs, retaining experienced employees and ensuring employers are best positioned as the economy looks to rebound.

“These bills will make sure workers are paid fair wages, receive good benefits and stay safe on their worksites. Our state is home to a long and proud legacy of supporting working New Yorkers, and we’re working to bolster that for the future,” Hochul said.