Latino Workers File Complaint to State Labor Department About Dangerous Work Conditions at Nassau County Parks
Mineola, NY – Trabajadores por Igualdad (TPI), aided by LatinoJustice PRLDEF and Make the Road New York, filed a complaint about the dangers of working conditions at Nassau County Parks to the workers’ health and safety. Some of the hazards cited in the complaint include chemical exposure, blunt trauma injuries by high-speed golf balls, and other workplace hazards in violation of state labor law and safety standards.
The workers are employed by Nassau County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. The complaint shines a light on deeply troubling conditions that have persisted for years at the County’s exclusive golf courses and parks grounds at Eisenhower Park as well as other County parks. Workers describe dangerous conditions over many years that resulted in injuries and fear of grave injuries such as toxic chemical exposure, lack of protection from errant golf balls, and no training for operating tools and heavy machinery. Further, TPI workers describe the County’s general lack of regard for their safety by failing to provide gloves, safety goggles, and face masks, even for workers who are cleaning fecal matter and bathroom facilities.
“We love the work but do not want to risk our health and safety to work. Now that we are united, we call for better conditions at work. We want just and equal conditions at work,” said a worker from Trabajadores por Igualdad, who preferred not to share his name.
“New York Labor Law §27-a protects all public employees from unsafe conditions like their counterparts in the private sector,” said Nathalia Varela, Long Island Legal Fellow at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We interviewed many TPI workers only to discover that they were deeply worried about working conditions and their health. When injured, they have had to pay out of pocket for healthcare since they receive no employee health insurance coverage despite some having worked for the County as long as 18 years. Some have even been discouraged from filing Workers Compensation claims.”
“These workers, many of whom have 10 to 18 years of experience as County workers, have suffered enormous harm on the job,” Javier Guzman, Long Island Community Organizer for Make the Road New York (MRNY), who has supported the workers, many of whom are MRNY members, since December 2017. “No worker should ever be put in this kind of danger, and Nassau County must address this situation immediately."
“The Department of Labor’s Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) has jurisdiction to investigate the facts of the Complaint. The state agency must do a full investigation on the conditions experienced by the Parks’ employees. Nassau County, as employer, is responsible for ensuring the safety of its employees,” stated Jackson Chin, Senior Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “It needs to train its line managers and workers. Supplies and equipment are deficient to date.”
Background Legal Document
- The Complaint that was filed outlining the occupational safety and health hazards can be found here.
Trabajadores por Igualdad – is a mutual aid association of Nassau County public workers.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF – Founded in 1972, LatinoJustice PRLDEF champions an equitable society. Using the power of the law together with advocacy and education, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in school and work, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities.
Make the Road New York - MRNY builds the power of Latinx and working class communities of color to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and the provision of survival services.