As discussed in greater detail here, Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to sign into law S.1034B/A.2681B, also referred to as the New York Health and Essential Rights Act, or the “Hero Act.”

The Hero Act has two main components.  First, the state Department of Labor, in consultation with the state Department of Health, shall create an airborne infectious disease safety standard, as well as a model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan, and employers either must adopt the plan and standards, or create standards that meet or exceed the model.  Second, employers with at least 10 employees must allow their employees to create joint labor-management workplace safety committees.

As health and safety issues are routinely negotiated between unionized employers and the employees’ collective bargaining representative, the Hero Act contains a CBA waiver provision, permitting employers and unions to explicitly agree to waive the requirements of the bill, as long as the waiver “explicitly reference[s]” the statute.  Employers should therefore keep this in mind if they are actively or imminently negotiating a successor collective bargaining agreement, and even if not, such waivers could be negotiated mid-term.

Employers who negotiate such waivers with their respective unions should be cognizant of the fact that they may be obligated to adopt certain health and safety prevention plans for their non-union employees, notwithstanding the waiver as to some of its employees.  Employers should also be aware of any other operative federal, state or other local health and safety guidance that may create additional obligations.

In addition, the bill also expressly provides that nothing therein “shall be deemed to diminish the rights, privileges, or remedies of any employee under any collective bargaining agreement.”  In other words, if a CBA provides for rights greater than prescribed by the bill, then the CBA rights and obligations continue to govern the parties’ relationship.

We will keep you posted as the bill is expected to be signed into law in the near future.  Once the Hero Act becomes law, the New York State Departments of Labor and Health presumably will begin to issue model plans on an industry-specific basis.  We will also monitor whether the bill is challenged in any forum, including potentially on federal preemption grounds.

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Photo of Paul Salvatore Paul Salvatore

Paul Salvatore provides strategic labor and employment law advice to companies, boards of directors, senior executives and general counsel in such areas as labor-management relations, major litigation, alternative dispute resolution, international labor and employment issues, and corporate transactions.

Paul negotiates major collective bargaining…

Paul Salvatore provides strategic labor and employment law advice to companies, boards of directors, senior executives and general counsel in such areas as labor-management relations, major litigation, alternative dispute resolution, international labor and employment issues, and corporate transactions.

Paul negotiates major collective bargaining agreements in several industries, including real estate and construction. In 2015, he represented the NYC real estate industry’s multi-employer organization, The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), in its $8 billion collective bargaining agreements with SEIU Local 32BJ. Paul also represented the Cement League, a multiemployer group of NYC area superstructure contractors, in halting an illegal strike by the Carpenters Union and negotiating a significant new collective bargaining agreement. He previously negotiated, on behalf of The Related Companies with 18 New York City construction unions, a landmark project labor agreement (PLA) for Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side, the largest private real estate development in U.S. history.

Photo of Joshua Fox Joshua Fox

Joshua S. Fox is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Sports, Labor-Management Relations, Class and Collective Actions and Wage and Hour Groups.

As a member of the Sports Law Group, Josh has represented several Major…

Joshua S. Fox is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Sports, Labor-Management Relations, Class and Collective Actions and Wage and Hour Groups.

As a member of the Sports Law Group, Josh has represented several Major League Baseball Clubs in all aspects of the salary arbitration process, including the Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. In particular, Josh assisted with the successful representation of the Toronto Blue Jays in their case against All-Star Josh Donaldson, which was the largest club victory in salary arbitration in recent years. Josh also represents Major League Baseball and its clubs in ongoing litigation brought by current and former minor league players who allege minimum wage and overtime violations, as well as similar claims brought on behalf of scouts. Josh participated on the team that successfully defended Major League Baseball in a wage-and-hour lawsuit brought by a former volunteer for the 2013 All-Star FanFest, who alleged minimum wage violations under federal and state law. The lawsuit was dismissed by the federal district court, and was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Photo of Jacob P. Tucker Jacob P. Tucker

Jacob Tucker is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration and Employment Counseling & Training Groups.