2017 Legislative Agenda

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Responsible Contracting

Stop Outsourcing Good Jobs

 

  • Buy American – This bill would establish a preference for the use and purchase of American made steel and iron products in structural and component parts of public works projects, as is already required on federally funded projects.
  • Disclosure of Worker Pay on State Contracts – This bill would require all contractors that provide services for state agencies to publish the average weekly wage of their employees.
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis Prior to Contracting for Services – This bill would require that before a state agency enters into a contract for consultant services valued at $250,000 or more over a 12-month period, a cost comparison review shall be conducted. This review would determine if the work could be performed by state employees for equal or lower cost.

 

 

Restore the Public Works Law to the Constitutional Intent – The New York State Constitution requires that prevailing wages be paid on public works projects, but decades of court decisions have undermined the law and created a confusing system that is routinely abused. As a result, public money and government subsidies are being used to drive down local wages and dilute the benefits of economic development. Public resources must be used responsibly, and the value associated with economic development should be maximized. This bill will clarify the definition of “public works” to restore the  law to its original intent so that taxpayers receive the most bang for their buck.

Prevailing Rate & Permanent Jobs for Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) & Local Development Corporations (LDC) – In 2015 the Governor and Legislature passed a strong IDA bill to shed light on the operations of IDAs and to recoup public assistance from businesses when they do not live up to their job creation promises. The NYS AFL-CIO will continue to work on legislation to apply those same standards to LDCs, including requiring prevailing rate on construction projects and establishing better standards  for permanent jobs created by employers who accept IDA and LDC assistance.

Design/Build and Alternative Contracting – The NYS AFL-CIO will oppose attempts to bypass  competitive bidding without adequate protections ensuring prevailing rate, the use of PLAs and protections for all impacted public employees and the services they provide; including design, inspection and ongoing operation and maintenance services.

Engage in Responsible Targeted Economic Development – We must focus on tax breaks and economic assistance to industries and companies that create good jobs and steer government funding away from low-wage jobs. Greater transparency and oversight is needed. We must also recognize prevailing wage and/or PLAs on construction projects and establish meaningful job standards for permanent positions.

Address Climate Change – The issue of addressing the long-term impact of climate change on the economy, infrastructure and communities across our state has become one of the most challenging of our generation. The NYS AFL-CIO joins with our affiliates in the energy sector and all other affiliates in addressing climate change and supporting the use of cleaner, more affordable and renewable energy in a responsible way.

 

  • The NYS AFL-CIO supports the development of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. This development must come with prevailing rate requirements on construction projects and include union representation of workers who generate and transmit renewable energy and manufacture, operate and install renewable energy infrastructure components.
  • The NYS AFL-CIO supports the efforts of impacted affiliates and their members at current power generation and transmission facilities, and utility employers to make those facilities more efficient in order to keep them operational.
  • The NYS AFL-CIO opposes importing power from out-of-state sources that compete with New York’s existing power facilities and our growing renewable sector by providing cheap power without adopting similar climate change policies.
  • The NYS AFL-CIO opposes providing government subsidies for employers and industries in the growing renewable sector that do not commit to creating good jobs with union representation, prevailing rate, bona-fide apprenticeship programs, or do not contribute the same revenues that existing utilities pay at the state and local level.
  • The climate related needs of our state are immense. We need more funding for resiliency projects, dams, drinking water and sewer systems, storm preparedness and other climate- related infrastructure improvements.
Better Public Services

Amend the Property Tax Cap – The property tax cap ties the hands of voters and local officials by imposing an inflexible cap on spending that does not take into account many variables that can affect the finances of those communities. The cap should be amended to allow more budget flexibility for enrollment and population growth, for growth attributable to necessary capital improvements and infrastructure investment and spending necessitated by emergencies and/or natural disasters. Also, the cap should be amended to allow voters of a school district to override the cap with a majority vote, rather than a two-thirds majority.

Properly Fund State Agencies – The role of government is to care for and make decisions in the best interests of the people it governs. Without proper funding for state agencies, our communities and the middle class will find it harder to access the valuable services that they need.

Oppose Charter School Expansion & Fix the Current Law –The NYS AFL-CIO will oppose the further dilution of school district funding by the unfair diversion of taxpayer dollars to charter schools. The NYS AFL-CIO will also support the critical reforms to existing law that will make charter school operators more accountable and transparent to the public. In addition, the NYS AFL-CIO will fight to ensure existing charter schools adhere to Article 8 of the Labor Law when building conversion or construction is required.

Improve Public Transportation – Adequate funding for the 10 year MTA capital plan and the state’s roads and bridges as well as adequate operating assistance in mass transit will remain a priority.

Strengthening “lock-box” legislation and ensuring the health and safety of transit system workers will also remain priorities for the NYS AFL-CIO.

Protect Access to Health Care, Mental Health & Care for the Developmentally Disabled –

The NYS AFL-CIO opposes continued attempts to close hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities (OMH) and services for those with developmental disabilities (OPWDD), as well as attempts to allow for the private operation and ownership of these facilities. The closure and downsizing of hospitals and institutions in OMH and OPWDD has resulted in the dislocation of vulnerable individuals from residences and has contributed to a lack of available options for families that need services, but are on waiting lists. New York State should allow for the structured planning of service reductions, as OMH has consistently circumvented the intent of existing law to provide for a methodical approach to closing or reducing services at OMH facilities. The intent of notification should be re-established to ensure a smoother transition for clients, impacted communities, and employees.

Increase Aid to Localities – The state needs to provide more funding and assistance to local  governments and communities across the state to improve our health and safety programs, schools, quality of life programs, and to strengthen the services working families rely on. Among the hardest hit by the lack of funding to local governments are workers who work in social services, including child protective services. The state should ensure that its most vulnerable citizens are taken care of, especially children.

Adequate Aid for SUNY and CUNY – Ensuring that the operational and capital needs of SUNY and CUNY are met will help protect the access to, and affordability of, a college education.

Adequate Funding for Public Schools – The NYS AFL-CIO supports a school aid increase in 2017-18 and urges the state to do all it can to realize the promise of the Foundation Aid formula that

was enacted a decade ago but is not yet fully funded. Specifically, the NYS AFL-CIO will work toward a $2 billion state aid increase for public schools in 2017-18, with $1.5 billion to preserve current school services and $500 million to support a series of critical needs and state education priorities. In addition, the NYS AFL-CIO urges the state renew the commitment to Foundation Aid, including providing a  phasing in of full funding within three years.

Adequate funding for the minimum wage increase – Ensure that state-funded health care and social service providers receive adequate increases in funding to cover the increase in the minimum wage.

Reform the SUNY Research Foundation & Campus Foundations – Both the SUNY Research Foundation and individual campus foundations operate with virtually no public oversight, and have done so for decades. These institutions must be brought in-line with other state agencies in terms of budget oversight and accountability, and require that employees hired at these foundations are part of the civil service system.

Support the Repeal of the NYS School Receivership Law – The NYS AFL-CIO calls for a repeal of the punitive receivership law. The enacted law on receivership attempts to centralize power, privatize   public education and strip away local control from parents and their local, democratically elected school boards. The law mislabels schools, students and educators based on the failed implementation of the Common Core and flawed state standardized test scores, without taking into account the progress made in existing local turnaround programs. This law blames educators, rather than addressing the real fundamental problems; chronic underfunding and high concentrations of students living in poverty. The NYS AFL-CIO will support the enactment of policies that provide a realistic research-based time to turnaround these schools properly and research-based solutions and tools that have been proven to close the achievement gap and accelerate student learning.

 

Lift Low Wage Workers out of Poverty

Progressive and Fair Taxation – Improving fairness and progressivity in the state’s income tax structure is a priority for 2017.  Continuation of the additional tax brackets for high income earners and establishment of new tax brackets for the state’s top earners will help lift the working poor out of poverty by shoring up services working families rely on, initiate infrastructure spending to create good jobs and establish a more stable state revenue stream.

Minimum Wage – The success of the Fight for $15 campaign will mean better pay and a better life for millions of New Yorkers, but due to outdated and obsolete laws, not all workers in New York are covered by the new minimum wage law.

 

  • The NYS AFL-CIO will fight for a law to make sure all New Yorkers, including public employees, are covered by the minimum wage.
  • Eliminating the Car Wash Tip Credit – Guarantees car wash workers the state minimum wage by not allowing employers to pay a lower hourly wage in anticipation of workers making up the difference in gratuities.

Regulating on-call Scheduling in Retail – Creates predictable and stable scheduling for retail workers by expanding reporting pay provisions to the practice of on-call scheduling.

Enact the Dream Act – The NYS AFL-CIO strongly supports passage of the Dream Act, which will expand access to higher education for the children of immigrants and help create a path for future employment and opportunity for all New Yorkers.

Justice for Farmworkers – The NYS AFL-CIO is working in coalition with a number of community, civic and human rights organizations to enact the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would require agricultural employers to finally provide the same rights to farmworkers that other workers enjoy.

These include a day of rest, overtime pay, the right to organize and the right to unemployment and Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Prevent Employers from Abusing Immigrant Workers – Employers are too often able to side-step labor laws, worksite safety and other worker protections by taking advantage of immigrant labor. The NYS AFL-CIO will continue to support laws and regulations to protect immigrant workers who blow the whistle on employers for wage or labor violations as well as to improve enforcement and increase penalties for employers that abuse immigrant workers.

End Unfairness in the Unemployment System
  • Establish a fairer benefit for partially unemployed workers and fix loopholes that prevent worker eligibility for benefits due to abusive part-time scheduling practices.
  • Make school district and higher education employees eligible for benefits.

 

Strengthen Support for Working Families – On and Off the Job

Workers Compensation – The NYS AFL-CIO will continue its work to ensure injured and ill workers receive timely, high-quality medical care, effective medication and benefits adequate for those workers and their families to maintain a dignified standard of living during their illness, injury or upon their death. We will strongly oppose corporate attempts to roll back benefits or impede access to care or medication including: those that would exclude certain workers or industries from coverage requirements, limit benefits based on geographic region, slash benefits for those who lose use of a body part, or prevent injured workers from choosing their medical providers.

Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act – This bill will improve patient and worker safety by establishing staff- to-patient ratios for nurses in hospitals and nursing homes, based on the type of care provided and number of patients.

Raise the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) Benefit – New York State requires private sector employers to provide TDI benefits for workers in the event they are injured while off the job with the cost being passed on to employees. The benefit is supposed to be 50 percent of a worker’s wage with a cap at 50 percent of the state’s average weekly wage (AWW). For decades the benefit has been capped at $170 per week, making it so low that very few workers are able to make ends meet in the event of an injury. The NYS AFL-CIO is working to increase the TDI benefit to 50 percent of the state’s AWW.

Expand Access to Child Care – The NYS AFL-CIO supports expanding child care programs and subsidies so working families have access to affordable, reliable family care.

Protect the Scaffold Law – This vital safety provision in the Labor Law helps save lives by ensuring that workers who are injured as a result of fall-related incidents have access to legal recourse. The

NYS AFL-CIO will vigorously defend this important safety provision.

Oppose Attempts to Rollback Triborough, Wicks and other Labor Protections – The NYS AFL-CIO will oppose attempts to undo important labor protections and worker rights.

Empower Working Men and Women

Protect Local Collective Bargaining Agreements The state should not interfere with local collective bargaining agreements by prohibiting negotiated benefits with respect to health insurance buyouts.

License Elevator Construction Workers – Create new standards for the training and licensing of elevator construction workers to better protect the public.

Create Fair Disciplinary Process for State Police Investigators – Provide state police investigators who have been in their position for three years or more, a hearing prior to demotion. Currently, the demotion of an investigator is at the sole discretion of the employer with no due process.

Restore Employee Protection Plans in New York City School Transportation – Employee protection plans (EPP’s) ensure that only the most qualified and highly trained drivers are retained by transportation contractors awarded transportation contracts. Several years ago, the previous Mayor unilaterally stopped using EPP’s by intentionally misapplying a court decision. This bill will clarify that EPP’s are allowed for city education/transportation contracts.

Establish Fairness for OMCE Workers – The NYS AFL-CIO will work to make sure management and confidential employees of the state receive past pay increases that they have been denied, and work to establish a more methodical and fair system of pay increases moving forward.

Increase Voter Participation – The only true reform to encourage and increase voter participation is removing barriers to voting. This includes passage of an early voting system, allowing for online and fully electronic voter registration, and allowing vote-by-mail.

Martin Act Reform –Authorize the Attorney General to investigate and take legal action when requested by a pension system or administrator, creating a process for the recovery of damages resulting from fraudulent investment or financial practices that cause pension fund losses.

 

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