Legislators erupted into applause on Monday after State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-East Elmhurst) passed her first bill through the senate floor.
Ramos’ S1721 bill requires the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board to provide translation of documents and interpretation services, as well as a language access plan, according to www.nysenate.gov.
The bill that passed on the senate floor on March 11 requires interpretative services for the six most common non-English languages and also orders to the board to have a language access coordinator, according to www.nysenate.gov.
“This week, I passed my first bill on the Senate floor,” said Ramos. “Workers should be aware of their rights, whether they speak English or not. I know many of my neighbors will benefit from language access, which will make it easier to advocate for themselves to the Workers’ Compensation Board.”
In New York, one of the most diverse states in the country, 13 percent of residents have limited English proficiency (LEP), according to the bill. LEP workers often work low-paying, but dangerous and sometimes physically demanding jobs.
In 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that 903 Latino workers were killed on the job, but those that were injured lacked resources to learn what they were entitled to once they got hurt, according to Ramos’ bill.
The top non-English languages spoken in the state are Spanish, Chinese (including Mandarin & Cantonese), Russian, Italian, Haitian Creole and Dutch (including Afrikaans, Yiddish & Pennsylvania Dutch), according to statisticalatlas.com, which provides mapped out U.S. data by neighborhood, district, county, state, zip codes and more.
Some of the co-sponsors of the bill include state Senators John Liu (D-Bayside) and Roxanne Persaud (D-Brooklyn).
On social media progressive grassroots coalitions like NoIDCNY and TenantsPAC congratulated Ramos on her first bill.
“The first of many,” tweeted TenantsPAC. “Keep up the great hard work in our community.”
The measure still must pass through the Assembly floor. If it is passed there, Gov. Andrew Cuomo could sign it into law.