August 29, 2021
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Unveils Workers Memorial at New York State Fair

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Unveils Workers Memorial at New York State Fair

Governor Hochul: "I want to make sure that when people talk about these essential workers, they talk about the people who also showed up on the roads, who kept showing up to a work site during a pandemic...They kept building back New York during a pandemic, and to all the workers, I want all of us to give them a rousing round of applause because they got it done. They got it done and we'll never forget the sacrifice and what they did."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a Workers Memorial at the New York State Fair. The memorial honors all transportation workers killed while performing their job duties on or near New York's thousands of miles of highways.

VIDEO is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO is available here.

PHOTOS will be available here.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning, everyone, on this spectacularly beautiful day. The hat goes on when the wind kicks up. My staff will hand me a hat and say your hair is blowing all over.

This is an incredible day for all of us and I want to thank the commissioner. Commissioner Dominguez has done an incredible job and I’ve been so grateful to have her on our team in the past and on my new team going forward because she guides and leads with heart and understands the challenges that our workers go through and she elevates your voices to make sure we know the dangers and the stress that you face so we can recognize what you’ve gone through and your sacrifices appropriately so, Commissioner Dominguez, let’s give you a round of applause and thank you for all your work.

Matt Driscoll, no stranger to the Syracuse area and I welcome him back. He has been here many times as our Executive Director and has quite a weight of responsibility as well and I say between the DOT and the Thruway Authority, having been a very vocal local official for many years and had a few battles sometimes, but I want to thank you for the flexibility that you demonstrated in working with our local officials to make sure that projects also meet the needs of the local residents, which is something that is not something I experienced in my many years until this administration. So thank you. Thank you very much for what you do.

And Sally, I want to thank you for being here, your family, your daughter, your grandchild. Your grandchild never got a chance to know Ron and I know this must be a point of pain for your family, but the way that you took your grief and turned it into action to make sure that we had laws in place where people understood now with the Move Over Law, and you're a great champion and advocate as were other families of those who lost loved ones in the line of duty, working on our highways and bike ways. You have changed people's attitudes about safety on the highways. You've ensured that people now and going forward because of the loss of your beloved husband Ron are remembered and people think about this when they're on a road and they see the lights, they know there is a law in place to protect these workers. I want to thank you, Sally, for your advocacy and championship to make sure that no one else has to endure the pain that you have. Let's give a round applause to Sally.

My partners in government who've been acknowledged, but Senator Mannion and Senator Rachel May, I thank you for your leadership in the Senate where I formally was the president of the Senate and we worked very closely together. Also, Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli who is our transportation chair, a great advocate for transportation. Senator Al Stirpe, Assemblymember Pam Hunter, and of course Assemblymember Didi Barrett who hails from the Hudson Valley, I thank them.

Richard Ball will be touring the fair very shortly. I look forward to connecting with him. I saw him at the Erie County Fair a couple of weeks ago, and all of the workers, all the workers who are here today and the people you represent, and I had the privilege of working with Teamsters and CSEA workers, and many other individuals represented by labor, but also the contractors, the individuals who show up on the site and help us with the paving and many projects.

So I want you to hear from me to hear today. This is not a new experience for me to have to work on projects like these and to make sure we elevate all the workers. So thank you for what you do, but as a result of hard work by many individuals, we have an opportunity to not just honor the people we've lost but to show respect going forward to those who are willing to put themselves on the line, literally in harm’s way, every single day. They go out onto the very busy highways and thruways of our state, all kinds of weather. I'm from Buffalo. I know what really bad, dangerous weather looks like. It's my daily commute. And they still show up and I know that there's been a lot of talk during this pandemic about essential workers. What is an essential word? And we know it is the health care workers who ran into the line of fire during the depths of a pandemic where they had no concern for their own lives, but the lives of others. It was powerful. The people who showed up in the grocery stores, the pharmacies, the transit drivers and workers.

But I want to make sure that when people talk about these essential workers, they talk about the people who also showed up on the roads, who kept showing up to a work site during a pandemic. They couldn't stay home. They couldn't do Zoom calls to get the work done. They kept building back New York during a pandemic, and to all the workers, I want all of us to give them a rousing round of applause because they got it done. They got it done and we'll never forget the sacrifice and what they did.

And we also know the danger of the workers on the highways. We have lost 56 members of the family of DOT and transportation workers. And it's not just the DOT. It's also the contractors and the throughway workers and so many others. Just this past April, two members of the DOT family were hospitalized, one with critical injuries following a vehicle collision. Earlier the same day, three contract employees were injured when a private truck was struck and sent through a work zone, striking the workers.

So this is not something we're talking about in the past. It's still going on, my friends. And I want all of us to leave this Memorial committed to using our voices and our advocacy to remind every single person who is on a New York State road, you are responsible for the lives of these people who are out there for you.

This is a relationship we have. You protect us, you give us the finest quality roads, and I can tell you I've been at every single road in the State of New York and they are the best. I've been there. Got a couple of potholes to fix but I know exactly where they are. But that is the trust we have. We’ll put people out there, we'll get the job done, but I have to also trust that the motorists all over the state will protect them as well. We're in this together. And that's what this Memorial represents. I want every single fair goer, whoever comes here, to read about this, to understand the sacrifice, that we would be back to the horse and buggy days, if we didn't have people who were willing to get out there and do this throughout our great history.

So we're going to continue our Operation Hardhat, a project where we're out there giving tickets to people. We don't want to give tickets, but if you're crossing the line, we're going to give you a ticket, and we're actually breaking records. Last year 770 tickets were given under Operation Hardhat to people who violate the laws that protect the safety of our workers, and this year already, we're at 1,600. So don't want to be hard about this, but they're going to get you if you violate these laws because people's lives are on the line. It's that important.

So I look forward to unveiling this amazing tribute. It’s a representation, a beautiful bronze representation, that people are going to walk by and understand how important it is that we are in this together, that we honor those we've lost, but respect those going forward. And I want to thank you for allowing me to participate today. I'm no stranger to this fair. I went to Syracuse University and I'm very excited to be back home and look forward to walking around the fair with all of you today. So thank you very much for attending.

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