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Region II Provides Outreach to Thousands at Freedom Ride Rally in New York

Region II Provides Outreach to Thousands at Freedom Ride Rally in New YorkOSHA’s Strategic Management Plan calls on the Agency to identify ways to improve the safety and health of immigrant workers. In that spirit, OSHA’s Region II participated in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride to provide outreach to the growing immigrant population.

The Freedom Ride, which culminated with a rally in New York City's Flushing Meadows Park on October 4, 2003, was an unprecedented effort to mobilize national support for changes in immigration policies, including workplace rights. The rally took place around the Unisphere, a giant steel globe that symbolizes the countries of origin of the people of the United States.

More than 125,000 union and community supporters joined the nearly 1,000 immigrant workers from various countries including Hispanics from Guatemala, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, San Salvador, Chile, as well as immigrants from China, Korea, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Haiti.

OSHA provided outreach to thousands of rally attendees including immigrant workers, union representatives, immigrant advocates from community and faith-based organizations, academia, and citizens supporting the immigrant workers. Most were unfamiliar with OSHA and were unaware that all workers have a right to a safe and healthful workplace without regard to citizenship/legal status. Attendees were able to ask questions of OSHA representatives in their own native language (Spanish, French, and Mandarin), learn more about OSHA, and obtain OSHA workplace safety and health materials, including OSHA Adds Value, Employee Workplace Rights, and the OSHA workplace poster in Spanish, French, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Additionally, OSHA representatives walked through the crowds handing out literature and speaking to the attendees about workplace safety and health. According to Diana Cortez, Area Director of the Tarrytown, New York Area Office, many attendees including representatives from unions, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), and Hunter College, were truly surprised to see OSHA, the only federal government participant, and were grateful for OSHA’s outreach efforts to immigrant workers.

OSHA Region II representatives who participated in the outreach activities included Diana Cortez and Paul Cherasard from the Tarrytown Area Office; Laura Kenny from the Regional Office; Ivan Siguencia from the Parsippany Area Office; Ubaldo Pernes and Amanda Collazos from the Manhattan Area Office; Maureen Moynihan-Fradkin from the Long Island Area Office; and Danny Mei, from the Bayside District Office

Freedom Ride sponsors included community and faith-based organizations, including the Korean Resource Center, Wind of the Spirit (Region II Alliance signee), and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the AFL-CIO, health care companies and many others.

For more information on this outreach activity, please contact Diana Cortez at Diana Cortez.