Senator Gaughran Introduces Legislation to Protect Essential Workers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

(Huntington, NY) Today, Senator Jim Gaughran announced legislation, S.8286, that will protect essential workers from threats, harassment, and assault amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Recent news reports have highlighted the dangers essential workers — from nurses and doctors to first responders to grocery store workers — face in the course of their day-to-day jobs. Essential workers are being targeted for their profession and prevented from completing their jobs. This bill will increase penalties for such crimes committed against essential workers.

Senator Jim Gaughran said “Essential workers are on the frontlines of combatting this unprecedented global health crisis. Rogue criminals who threaten, harass, or attack these brave heroes must be held accountable for interfering with essential workers abilities to do their jobs. My legislation will protect our frontline heroes and deter senseless criminal activity.”

This bill will increase penalties for crimes committed against an essential worker during a declared disaster emergency. The legislation will protect any worker deemed essential during a declared state disaster emergency, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard Schementi, LIRR Conductor who has faced verbal harassment and intimidation as an essential worker, said “As a frontline Conductor of the LIRR we want to thank Senator Gaughran for this bill. As a conductor we want to just come in and do our job protecting our riders as well as going home safe to our families.”

Noel Di Gerolamo, Suffolk PBA President, said “During this global pandemic, it is unconscionable to think anyone would commit a crime against an essential worker doing their job. Unfortunately, it has occurred. Senator Gaughran’s bill looks to help address these situations.”

Anthony Simon, General Chairman/Alt International VP SMART-Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation Transportation Division, said “On behalf of our LIRR essential workers who are delivering on service and walking into harm’s way everyday we thank the Senator for recognizing the need for this legislation. LIRR employees and all MTA workers are heroes moving heroes All first responders and essential workers deserve to be treated with respect. We can not tolerate them being harassed or assaulted. The Senator has stepped up to put action in front of words and we thank him for his leadership. We stand in support of this bill and in support of Senator Gaughran.”

Phil Eng, LIRR President, said “Transportation employees have been on the front lines of this pandemic day in and day out and they deserve all the protections we can afford them,” LIRR President Phillip Eng said. “We need to continue to send the message that we have zero tolerance for anyone who wishes to harm one of our heroes, and that there will be stiff consequences for anyone who commits these heinous acts.”

John R. Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, said “Our State’s essential workers, healthcare professionals, and first responders have all been critical to our families and communities as we navigate the continued crisis. These selfless frontline heroes have put their own health on the line and the last thing they should ever have to worry about is physical or verbal assault and harassment. We should be sharing our gratitude at this time and anything other than that is both reprehensible and inexcusable. We appreciate Senator Gaughran’s leadership in introducing legislation that would hold those who intentionally harm essential and frontline workers fully accountable for their actions.”

Thomas Mungeer, NYS Troopers Pba President, said “This legislation provides another layer of personal protection, that Senator Gaughran wants to provide to NYS Troopers and all of our essential workers.”

Michael O’Meara, president of the New York State Association of PBAs, said, “The people of the great State of New York are all living in these extraordinarily difficult times.  Senator Gaughran has recognized the need for legislation that would help protect our police officers, and all those essential workers who are on the front lines in the war against an insidious disease.  The current state of emergency, and the likelihood of similar situations occurring in the future, has unfortunately demonstrated the necessity for this legislation.  I commend Senator Gaughran for sponsoring this well-reasoned and much-needed measure.”