NYS DOL Educates Immigrant Workers of Rights on the Job
October 1, 2012
By Rory Lancman
In September, the New York State Department of Labor organized the second "Immigrants Connect Weekend" in seventeen locations throughout the state. Originating as a joint initiative of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and the Department of Labor, the event brought together government agencies, local elected officials and local community-based organizations to provide useful information for immigrant workers.
During the first year the project was introduced, the outreach focused on educating immigrant workers on their rights on the job and services that are available to them. This year, multiple agencies provided information and resources to participants on a variety of important topics in addition to workplace rights such as health care, small businesses and civil rights. In addition to the New York Department of Labor, agencies included NYS Department of Health, NYS Division of Human Rights, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, among others. Involvement from a broad spectrum of agencies contributed to the richness of information provided in the two-day event. Many of the agencies joined us in Queens, where my office hosted a public tabling session outside of a local supermarket.
One of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety’s highest priorities is to work to protect immigrant workers, who are vulnerable to health and safety hazards in the workplace. According to the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs, immigrants make up 27 percent of the state’s workforce and 43 percent of New York City’s workforce. Immigrants are less likely to approach government agencies for help with needed assistance because of fear of deportation, language barriers and access problems, according to a survey conducted by the New York Department of Labor. Events like Immigrants Connect Weekend are important because it is a chance for agencies to go out into the communities where people live during accessible hours and provide immigrants important information to keep them safe on the job and to protect their rights.