New York State AFL-CIO

643 POSTS 1 COMMENTS

Albany – “This is a victory for all New Yorkers. Requiring American made iron and steel products for New York’s roads and bridges is a wise investment for the future of our economy.

“Buy American, will create and maintain solid middle-class jobs, strengthen local economies and give a much needed shot in the arm to the manufacturing industry right here at home in New York. It ensures our hard-earned tax dollars are not sent overseas and are invested back into our own workforce.

“We thank Governor Cuomo for setting the standard for the rest of the country by prioritizing Buy American legislation. He understands the importance of investing in our skilled workforce and sending a strong statement about the commitment we have as a state to companies that manufacture and operate here, and hire New York workers.

“We also thank Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and IDC Leader Klein for their leadership on this important issue.

”This victory would also not have been possible without the unwavering support of the bill sponsors, Sen. Robach and Assemblyman Morelle who went above and beyond to ensure Buy American becomes law.”

 

 ###

The New York State AFL-CIO is a federation of 3,000 affiliated public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the state representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families. Our State Federation, which is the largest and most diverse in the country, is committed to helping working families achieve a better life. For more information on the Labor Movement in New York, visit www.nysaflcio.org.

0
NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon setting concrete block.

ALBANY, NY –The New York Regional Conference of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (BAC) hosted a Masonry Exposition in Albany, New York on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

The Masonry Expo featured hands-on demonstrations of bricklaying and tile setting along with displays of stone, marble, concrete masonry unit block, plaster and rain screen.

At the Masonry Expo, under the watchful eye of instructors and their apprentices, elected officials got a chance to lay bricks and set tile in order to experience some of the tasks masonry workers routinely perform. More daring participants were invited to strap into a safety harness and stand on a two-point suspended scaffold rig about 3 feet wide. The rig never leaves the floor, but it conveys the sensation of hanging off the side of a building hundreds of feet above the ground grinding mortar joints.

In addition to demonstrating the versatility, functionality and complexity of the masonry trades to the public and elected officials, the BAC promoted legislation that would help stabilize wages and working conditions across NY’s construction industry.

A5498 / S2975 redefines “public work” under NY’s Labor Law Section 220, to close various loopholes such that prevailing wage and benefit requirements will follow and attach to all government subsidized construction.  Wages and working conditions for construction workers are in decline and, in particular, safety conditions are deteriorating dramatically.  NY experienced 246 construction fatalities for the 5 years between 2011 through 2015 with a steadily increasing number of deaths each year (approximately 75%- 80% of which in any given year were non-union workers).

We are hopeful the legislature and the governor will act in 2017 to stop this race to the bottom.

 


More background information 

“UNION MASONRY – BUILDING A BETTER NEW YORK”

NY’s construction sector, a well-established pathway to the middle class, is under assault by low road contractors that reap enormous profits while paying workers subsistence wages with no training and no benefits.  The most compelling evidence of this decline is the extraordinary number of construction fatalities across New York State – 246 fatalities for the 5 years between 2011 through 2015 with steady increases each year. Our state elected officials must act to bring this alarming trend to an end and to stop providing government subsidies for construction without requirements for prevailing wages and benefits.

 

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Masonry crafts are as old as civilization itself and stem from a rare combination of artistic inspiration, precision and muscle. Like much construction work, masonry work has always been dangerous in both the catastrophic sense — masonry work is frequently done at great heights with relatively heavy materials – and in the long term health of workers – from lower-back pain to silicosis.  The BAC and its International Union (the IUBAC) have spent decades studying and assessing the most effective and safest techniques and protocols for executing masonry work that protects both the workers and the public.  The IUBAC’s NYS Certified Apprenticeship Training Programs run by the International Masonry Institute (or IMI, the IUBAC’s joint labor-management training and technical program) are the gold standard of the industry.  IMI apprentices and personnel will be on-hand from the IMI facilities in Long Island City, Albany, Pittsford, Liverpool, Newburgh, Buffalo and Whitney Point.

 

The Versatility, Sustainability and Aesthetics of Modern Masonry

Many of the world’s most beautiful, moving and enduring structures are built from masonry. Even our State Capital and Legislative Office Building are architectural gems constructed primarily from masonry products.  At the Masonry Expo, IMI’s architects and engineers will be on-hand to explain the many benefits of building with modern masonry products.  Because modern masonry wall systems are nearly indestructible and resistant to both weather and fire, they reduce life cycle costs for buildings.  The masonry wall is also energy efficient due to its mass and resultant temperature stability.  In addition, the masonry craft has evolved with modern engineering to produce buildings that feature more height, light and space than ever before. Even concrete masonry units (CMU), formerly referred to as cinder blocks, now have increased strength that can exceed minimal required strengths that enables engineers multiple structural options when using masonry as the primary structural system in a building.  When set in conjunction with rebar, the new CMU allows masonry buildings to be shaped and configured in a light and dynamic fashion while still retaining the traditional life cycle advantages and energy efficiency of masonry.

 

Making the Industry Safe: Apprentices and Masters

Individual masonry workers have NO bargaining power in the construction market – if you want to work, it’s take it, or leave it.  However, in NY’s unionized masonry sector, wages, benefits and working conditions are negotiated between union representatives (from one of the four BAC local unions around New York) and management and result in a collective bargaining agreement.  The mechanism to recruit and train BAC Apprentices are a part of those agreements and in compliance with NYS DOL’s regulations.  Apprentices are taught over a 4 year program that combines classroom instruction under the guidance of master craftworkers with on-the-job training.  A first year apprentice completes an initial 6 weeks of classroom training (paid for by the union membership) and then begins work in the field with a union contractor at 50 percent of the journeyworker rate.  The program is designed to educate and enrich the lives of young craftworkers through the expertise and immense benefits that only the unionized construction industry can deliver.

 

How Our Elected Officials Can Take Action

The construction labor market suffers from basic, structural flaws — too many workers, too little training, too easily exploited by unscrupulous developers and contractors.  The prevailing wage and benefit requirements of the NYS Constitution and the NY Labor Law Section 220 are supposed to act as a backstop across the public construction sector (and, indirectly, the private construction sector) by guaranteeing good middle class wages and benefits for construction workers on public projects.  However, prevailing wages and benefits (which are usually based on a union negotiated wage package for a particular trade in the commercial market in each region of the state) have been under attack for decades.  Today, prevailing wage and benefit requirements routinely don’t apply to all kinds of government subsidized construction.  The result is that our government frequently subsidizes projects with non-union contractors and developers that pay workers subsistence wages.  Ultimately this degrades wages and working conditions across the industry.  If we look at the large and increasing number of fatalities across New York (approximately 78% of which were non-union workers), it’s clear that the chickens have come home to roost.

 

A5498 / S2975 would close those loopholes so that prevailing wage and benefit requirements follow and attach to all government subsidized construction.  Given the 246 fatalities for the 5 years between 2011 through 2015 with steady increases each year, it seems reasonably clear that wages and working conditions for construction workers are in decline.  

 

We strongly urge the legislature and the governor to stabilize wages and working conditions across the construction industry with A5948/S2975.

0

Both houses of the legislature and the governor have introduced legislation to enact stronger laws requiring that when taxpayer dollars are used on public works projects we try to use American made iron and steel products to the greatest extent possible. Both houses have also included these provisions in their one-house budget proposals over the last two years and public support for strengthening Buy American is through the roof.

It is now time to act. Several other states have recently passed legislation, including Texas and New Jersey and others such as Maryland and Oregon have enacted laws. The federal government has always required this on federally funded projects.

The law is nothing new and it is not penal or relatable in any way to any other nation. The law would simply help American manufacturers that pay their workers decent wages and adhere to environmental and labor standards to be able to compete with international companies that have no such costs to build into their products. In fact, some nations are known to manipulate their currency, do not abide by any fair and free trade rules and some are state owned, meaning the playing field is not level and United State manufacturers cannot compete in their own backyard.

More importantly, the public supports Buy American because it is ultimately the taxpayers who fund our roads, bridges and infrastructure. Voters are the ones demanding that we maximize the jobs return on our tax investments to create not only good construction jobs, but also manufacturing jobs.

We urge both houses and the Governor to pass Buy American now, so we can keep New Yorkers and workers across the nation working.

Mario Cilento, President

President’s Message

Support American Manufacturing as an End of Session Priority

Both houses of the legislature and the governor have introduced legislation to enact stronger laws requiring that when taxpayer dollars are used on public works projects we try to use American made iron and steel products to the greatest extent possible. Both houses have also included these provisions in their one-house budget proposals over the last two years and public support for strengthening Buy American is through the roof.

It is now time to act. Several other states have recently passed legislation, including Texas and New Jersey and others such as Maryland and Oregon have enacted laws. The federal government has always required this on federally funded projects.

The law is nothing new and it is not penal or relatable in any way to any other nation. The law would simply help American manufacturers that pay their workers decent wages and adhere to environmental and labor standards to be able to compete with international companies that have no such costs to build into their products. In fact, some nations are known to manipulate their currency, do not abide by any fair and free trade rules and some are state owned, meaning the playing field is not level and United State manufacturers cannot compete in their own backyard.

More importantly, the public supports Buy American because it is ultimately the taxpayers who fund our roads, bridges and infrastructure. Voters are the ones demanding that we maximize the jobs return on our tax investments to create not only good construction jobs, but also manufacturing jobs.

We urge both houses and the Governor to pass Buy American now, so we can keep New Yorkers and workers across the nation working.

 

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action

LABOR LOBBYISTS MEETING
Monday, June 12, 2017, 1:00 p.m.

100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY

Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon will address the lobbyists.

Issue of the Week

Protect Workers at Nuclear Power Facilities (A8173/S6127)

This bill amends various sections of the Labor Law to enhance the WARN ACT as it applies to employers operating nuclear power plants in the state. Specially, the bill would require: the operators to provide the Department of Labor with a detailed plan of closure 18 months prior to such closure; one year’s notice of employment loss to employees of the plant; and health screenings and retraining programs for the workers.

Developments in the energy sector combined with political and economic pressures on nuclear power plants have created unstable markets and forced uncertainty in many local communities with power plant operations. Recently, all the state’s largest operators, including Indian Point in Westchester County, the James A. Fitzpatrick Plant in Oswego County and the Ginna Plant in Wayne County were slated either for closure, sale and/or downsizing because of this instability.

These plants are not only the biggest employers in the local areas but they are a critical contributor to the local tax base, economy and energy infrastructure. The workers, local communities and businesses all deserve a methodical, rational approach to any major closures or downsizing’s. This bill will help smooth the impact on local communities as well as help workers find new employment and prepare themselves and their families for the impact of job loss.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

 

For further information contact Mike Neidl at 518-436-8516 or by email information@nysaflcio.org

0


ON ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYEES AGENDA 6/6/17

INJUNCTIVE RELIEF EXTENSION

A7964 Abbate/S6477 Golden

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union workers and their families as well as our retirees and their families supports the above referenced legislation. This bill extends the effectiveness of provisions of the civil service law relating to injunctive relief in improper practice cases.

This bill continues for two years, the ability to seek injunctive relief in the face of improper practices that could cause irreparable harm. This bill helps avoid delays during dispute resolution caused by manipulating the system overseen by the Public Employment Relations Board.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

For further information contact the Legislative Department at 518-436-8516.

0


ON ASSEMBLY LABOR AGENDA 5/23/17

A1834 Harris, et al

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union members and their families as well as our retirees and their families, supports the above referenced legislation.

This bill amends the Workers’ Compensation Law to make a technical clarification to the paid family leave law that was enacted in the 2016-17 state budget. The current law inadvertently made some workers ineligible to use the family leave benefit. This clarification will ensure that all employees who pay for family leave insurance will be eligible to utilize the benefit.

The family leave law requires almost all private sector employees to pay for insurance that will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for an immediate family member if they become ill or to bond with a newborn child. Employees become eligible to use the benefit only after they have been employed continuously for 26 weeks with the same employer.

The 26-week requirement however, inadvertently excludes some workers from being able to actually use the benefit that they will be required to pay for. For example, construction workers who gain employment through hiring halls work for multiple employers, often for short timeframes and often with breaks in between jobs.  

This means many will not reach the 26 weeks of continuous employment threshold, making them ineligible to use the insurance even though they will be paying for it. This bill will rectify the problem by stipulating that as long as a worker reaches 26 weeks of employment during the previous 39-week period (3 quarters) they will qualify for the benefit.

This important clarification will ensure that the paid family leave law will be implemented fairly for all workers in the state.  

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

For further information, contact the Legislative Department.

0


ON ASSEMBLY LABOR AGENDA 6/7/17

ELEVATOR SAFETY

 

A5815B Titus, et al/S5137A Savino, et al

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union workers and their families, as well as our retirees and their families supports this legislation.  

This bill will enact reforms to strengthen the licensing of elevator construction and repair workers, as well as strengthen the oversight of contractors. This bill enacts important safety provisions that will protect both the general public and workers.

The construction, inspection, maintenance and repair of elevators and service lifting devices require specialized skills and experience. This bill will ensure that only qualified workers who have received that training and experience provide these services. This bill is necessary to prevent injury and death of both workers and the general public.

Therefore, this Federation urges immediate passage.

For further information, contact the Legislative Department at 518-436-8516.

0


ON SENATE LABOR AGENDA 5/22/17

PREVENT WORKPLACE VIOLENCE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

 

S5350 Alcantara/ A5391 Titus, et al

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union workers and their families as well as our retirees and their families, supports the above-referenced legislation.

This legislation amends the Labor Law to require school districts to develop and implement workplace violence prevention programs. While current law requires public employers to develop workplace violence prevention programs, schools and school districts are excluded from the definition of “employer” for the purposes of workplace violence prevention.

This bill would require schools to do the same assessment of the workplace and develop a strategy to correct any areas of potential violence. This bill would simply hold school districts to the same high standard of workplace violence prevention as other public employers.  

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

For further information, contact the Legislative Department at 518-436-8516.

0


OPPOSE ROLLING BACK PAYROLL PROTECTIONS

 

S5208A Gallivan/A6771A Morelle

The New York State AFL-CIO, representing 2.5 million union workers and their families, as well as our retirees and their families opposes the above referenced legislation.

This bill would codify the use of debit cards as a mechanism of payroll. This bill has the potential to allow for the exploitation of workers’ and does not include strong enough protections to ensure that worker’s pay is protected. Further, this bill would implement weaker protections than has already been proposed through regulation and legislation by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Attorney General.  

Just last year DOL proposed and implemented regulations that protect the pay, privacy and access to pay for workers whose employers offer payroll debit cards. The protections afforded to workers are clear and fair in setting forth the conditions that employers must meet. Among these are adequate notification of rights and terms of use for workers and strong protections to ensure the employee authorization is required and free from the threat of disciplinary action. The regulations also prohibit the charging of excessive fees by employers or the payroll vendors they contract with and ensure that workers have geographic access to machines or banks to use their card without charge. These protections were met with universal support from the labor movement.

Those regulations are now the subject of litigation and no law that would change those protections should be passed until that litigation has been resolved, especially considering that this bill would weaken the worker protections. An employee’s paycheck is their property and per federal law employees are entitled to free and clear access to their pay. The use of debit cards would change the ability of employees to access their paycheck, as well as potentially create charges and fees for employees to access their pay.  

On behalf, of the NYS AFL-CIO strongly urges the legislature to reject this bill.

For further information, contact the Legislative Department at 518-436-8516.