329 Worker Protection Staff Take Oath to Serve and Protect All Working New Yorkers
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The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) today held a first-of-its-kind Worker Protection enforcement staff shield ceremony on July 12, 2023, at the Hart Theatre in Albany. State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon administered the oath of office to 329 members of the Department’s Worker Protection Unit from across the state, who vowed to uphold and enforce state and federal labor law. These state workers are on the frontlines of New York State’s unending commitment to ensure that all working New Yorkers are safe while on the job.
“The hardworking enforcement staff of the Worker Protection Unit are skilled and knowledgeable professionals who share a passion for safeguarding their fellow New Yorkers in the workplace," said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. "These shields are a symbol of their authority to serve, protect, and enforce labor law with honor, dignity, and respect.”
NYSDOL’s Division of Worker Protection is made up of 501 members of the state workforce, including 365 enforcement staff who are represented in all five of the unit’s divisions: Bureau of Public Work, Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs, Division of Labor Standards, Division of Safety and Health, and Office of Special Investigations.
Over the past decade, NYSDOL worker protection team has recovered and dispersed more than $360 million in stolen wages and identified over a million misclassified workers. In 2022 alone, NYSDOL’s Worker Protection investigations recovered $25 million in wages for nearly 18,000 workers. During investigations and inspections, NYSDOL works with many partners to ensure workers are safe and employers comply with the labor law, including New York State Police, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and organized labor.
Acting New York State Police Commissioner Steven Nigrelli said, “I applaud the members of the Department of Labor’s Worker Protection team for their dedication and service as they are on the frontlines of keeping our workplaces and laborers safe. They provide a voice for our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and their efforts to protect all New Yorkers is critical.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our Department and our agricultural industry share the Department of Labor’s goal to work together to ensure we have a strong, safe, and healthy workforce across New York State. I commend all of the workers taking their oath today to help further these goals, and their work to protect the public at our Great New York State Fair, and wish them the best.”
PEF President Wayne Spence said, “In this room we have more than 300 public employees, and each and every one of you deserves recognition. PEF applauds the DOL and Commissioner Reardon for hosting this ceremony and highlighting the valuable contributions investigators make to the people of New York.”
As part of ongoing NYSDOL modernization, the Management System for Protecting Worker’s Rights (MPWR) was developed. MPWR is a $10 million multi-faceted case management system for NYSDOL’s Division of Worker Protection. As MPWR continues to develop, more applications currently processed by mail will be available online, making application processes quicker, easier, and more secure.
MPWR will also allow New Yorkers to report claims of labor violations, unemployment fraud, and more online in multiple languages and receive updates in real-time about the status of their claims. It will allow the worker protection team to collect real-time data, enhancing its ability to analyze and identify trends.
For more information on the Department’s Worker Protection efforts, visit NYSDOL’s website.