New York Senators and Assembly Members Denounce Dotdash Meredith’s Neglect of the HERO Act and Labor Law in Public Letter to Company
New York Senators and Assembly Members Denounce Dotdash Meredith’s Violation of the HERO Act and Labor Law in Public Letter to Company
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos, along with 22 New York electeds sent a letter in support of 170 media workers at Dotdash Meredith organizing for better health & safety standards.
Read the 22 Legislators’ Full Letter Here
NEW YORK - In a letter sent Monday to Dina Nathanson, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Dotdash Meredith, 22 New York state senators and assembly members are highlighting the company’s failure to obey the NY HERO Act, which protects workplace safety during airborne disease outbreaks.
They’re demanding Dotdash Meredith, the largest digital and print publisher in the country, comply with its airborne infectious disease exposure plan, and recognize the employees’ workplace health and safety committee, which workers are empowered by law to form in order to monitor their employer’s compliance and request enforcement in areas where management has failed.
“Too many workers have already sacrificed their health for our community’s benefit. The New York Hero Act honors their efforts by giving workers the tools to protect themselves while on the job,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “All workplaces are expected to adhere to the law and protect their workers during airborne infectious disease outbreaks. We fully expect Dotdash Meredith to comply with this law immediately and quickly resolve the issues presented by its workers.”
Dotdash Meredith employees lost a colleague early in the pandemic and several workers have lost family members and friends to COVID. Multiple employees are immunocompromised and at high risk and some have children at home under the age of five.
“In spite of the loss of thousands of New Yorkers, Dotdash Meredith has committed itself to non-compliance with the New York HERO Act,” said Assembly Member Karines Reyes. “Adherence to the law is non-negotiable, but it is particularly disheartening to see Dotdash Meredith deny its workers the right to establish workplace health and safety committees to protect themselves against airborne infectious disease. Dotdash Meredith must recognize the rights of their workers and reconcile this matter immediately.
The Meredith union, composed of 170 workers across People, PeopleTV, Entertainment Weekly, Shape, and Martha Stewart Living, and represented by the NewsGuild of New York, have organized collective actions to push back return-to-office dates, and organized health and safety audits in December and January, both of which the company failed.
The union has twice notified Dina Nathanson, Dotdash Meredith’s HERO Act designee, of the company’s failures to abide by the law and received no response. Steve Pope, a Dotdash Meredith vice president of human resources, sent an email to the committee stating that employees did not have the “authority or expertise” to check the company’s exposure plan.
“Meredith’s insulting, reckless, and lawless behavior is an affront to the employees whose tireless labor has substantially benefited shareholders, such as when the company was purchased by Dotdash to the tune of billions of dollars last year,” said Chris Brooks, field director for the NewsGuild of New York.
“We wanted to make sure the office was safe for our return, especially during New York’s spike with the omicron variant. We wanted to be a part of the conversation and welcomed Dina Nathanson to discuss workplace safety with us, but in return, we felt we were silenced and our legitimacy was questioned” says Ryan Parks, a producer at PeopleTV and member of the health & safety committee. “Forming this committee isn’t an irrational ask, especially because it’s covered in the HERO Act. Ultimately, we feel the company can be at its best when workers feel safe and healthy.”
“For months the company ignored urgent health & safety concerns we observed on multiple occasions in the office. We continually reached out in a good faith effort to have an honest conversation with leadership,” says Greg Lofts, chair of the health & safety committee. “Only after ignoring us for months did leadership fire off a wholly dismissive and aggressive email, claiming our committee has no right to exist. We do exist and we won’t back down. It’s past time for the company to engage with us and get serious about our health & safety.”
Senate Labor Committee Chair Senator Jessica Ramos said “The NY Hero Act was not passed with the intention that employers could perceive it as a list of suggestions. The Dotdash Meredith Union has taken important steps to protect the workers and escalate their health and safety for accountability, and the over 100 labor unions that supported the passage of the NY Hero Act stand with them as they demand safety in their workplace.”
Senator Andrew Gounardes said “Dotdash Meredith's blatant disregard for its workers' health and safety is appalling. New Yorkers have been working hard to keep each other safe for two long years now, and the least they should be able to expect is that their employers and workplaces will do the same. We passed the NY HERO Act into law last year because we know that all workers deserve a workplace safe from heightened COVID exposure risks, and I will continue to work alongside my colleagues in state and local government to ensure that is what all workers are able to experience.”
Senator Jabari Brisport said “No one should have to choose between their safety and keeping food on the table for their children. That’s why we passed the HERO Act last year, and Dotdash Meredith is not above the law.”
Senator Jim Gaughran said “The State Legislature passed the NY HERO Act to protect employees from harms in the workplace and empower workers to ensure their employers comply. Dotdash Meredith's failure to meet the minimum health and safety standards in the NY Hero Act is appalling and I urge Dotdash Meredith to comply with the law.”
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