New York State AFL-CIO

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Statement of New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento in response to

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s proposed Workers’ Compensation Reforms

“The only proposals we’ve seen so far under the guise of workers’ compensation reform would result in steep cuts in benefits to injured workers without any guarantee of savings to employers.

“The duration cap updates that have been proposed will harm injured workers by ending benefits sooner and the burden will then be transferred as an unfunded mandate when injured workers turn to social services from local governments to fill the gap.

“As in the past, the New York State AFL-CIO will support legislation that increases injured workers’ access to high-quality medical care and adequate wage replacement while vigorously opposing any attempts to cut benefits or limit access to care.”

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ON ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE 2/14/2017

NEW YORK HEALTH ACT

A4738 Gottfried, et al/S4371 Perkins

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 would enact the New York Health Act to establish a single payer, universal health care system in New York State.  All residents would be eligible to participate and enroll in NY Health which would establish a comprehensive medical insurance program, coordinate that program with all current providers including Taft-Hartley funds, and establish parameters with regard to enrollment, covered services, provider participation and other aspects of the program.

The cost of maintaining the current system of health care in today’s economy has made it cost-prohibitive for too many employers to provide insurance for their workers. Those employers that are able to afford this cost are finding it harder to do so, thanks in large part to multi-payer systems which contributes to out-of-control costs.

Not only are employers feeling this hardship, but as more of the cost has been passed along to workers in the form of higher premiums, deductibles and copays, the financial well-being of workers is being challenged.  Unions are finding it more difficult to negotiate pay raises and other benefits as a result of holding the line on health insurance benefits.  Meanwhile, those who do not have insurance, particularly if they are not eligible for subsidies to pay for coverage required under the Affordable Care Act, face even more extreme financial hardship.  

This bill would codify the right to access health care in this state, and by establishing a single payer system it will alleviate employers and individuals from the costs of health insurance or worse, drastic medical bills that can lead to financial ruin. This will reduce overall cost in the system and allow for more effective administration and management for the provision of health care. The bill further will reduce long term health care costs by ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to ongoing and regular preventative care.   

Therefor this federation urges passage.

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

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ON ASSEMBLY HEALTH COMMITTEE 2/14/2017

SUPPORT DOCTORS’ ABILITY TO PROVIDE CARE

 

A4472 Gottfried, 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 would allow doctors the ability to negotiate with large HMOs for issues that affect their ability to treat patients, their business operations and their own livelihoods. Without this basic right, independent physicians are powerless to challenge the practices of huge health insurance companies that offer “take it or leave it” contracts which almost always contain provisions which are not only unfair to providers but unfair to patients as well. These provisions can often limit a doctor’s ability to decide appropriate courses of treatment.  Without appropriate input from the doctor, these plans can result in health care decisions being made by insurance personnel rather than health care professionals.

This law will empower physicians to advocate for their patients, encourage competition among health care plans, and restore some semblance of fairness and balance in a marketplace that is increasingly and overwhelmingly dominated by one sector of the health care industry. Most importantly, it will enhance the quality of health care for all New Yorkers which is being jeopardized by the vast power wielded by huge health insurers with tremendous market domination.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

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

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ON ASSEMBLY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AGENDA 2/14/17

RESTORE ACCOUNTABILITY TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 

A3047 Magnarelli

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 amends Section 34 of the General Municipal Law to clarify the authority of the State Comptroller to audit the finance and operations of Local Development Corporations (LDCs) and other similar entities established under the control of local governments and local government offshoots.

Due to years of criticism about the effectiveness of Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) and their job creation efforts, their authority to fund and finance civic facility projects expired. As a result, many local IDAs and entities resorted to a back door way of publicly funding these projects, by establishing LDCs. The proliferation of LDCS across the state for this purpose has raised the level of their authority.

Clearly, LDCs have tremendous influence on public finances and policy, but through a loophole in the law, there is very little oversight and transparency in the decision making process and the effectiveness of their operations.   

This bill will ensure that LDCs are subject to the same independent scrutiny as all other public entities. It is needed in the interests of open government and transparency.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.

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

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President’s Message

Any Benefit Cut for Injured Workers is Not Acceptable

New proposals to cut the benefits for injured workers have been introduced in both houses of the legislature and there will no doubt be attempts to force these proposals into the budget. These proposals would devastate the livelihoods of injured workers and their families. They would shift the responsibility of insurance companies to pay for the care and treatment of injured workers to social service programs and burden state and local property taxpayers with the cost.

Workplace injuries and illness have a devastating effect on workers and their families. Most lose large percentages of their incomes if they cannot work. On top of that, injured workers face a nightmare of litigation, challenges to the care they need and delays in the process of receiving wage replacement.

The truth is, the cost of benefits for workers is only a portion of the overall premium that is charged to employers. The new proposals do not even consider the expenses of insurance companies and other interests including billing companies, private investigators, independent medical examiners and dozens of other vendors that make tremendous profits off the system but stymie the ability of injured workers to access care and benefits.

In addition to reducing the costs outlined above, there are numerous other ways to reduce employer costs without benefit cuts. We should quantify savings already built into the system and specifically target it to premium reduction. We should examine the ratemaking process itself and we should maximize the use of discount programs for employers with above average or improved safety records.

The NYS AFL-CIO will work to find other meaningful but fair savings for employers. But first and foremost we will fight any attempts to reduce the benefits to injured workers and their families.

Mario Cilento, President

Issue of the Week


Oppose Workers Compensation Benefit Cuts

S4520 Akshar/A6602 Woerner

This legislation would amend the workers’ compensation law to drastically limit benefits for permanently injured workers. Most permanently injured workers already face caps on the duration of their benefits. This bill would implement those caps on average 4.5 years sooner.The effect of this legislation is to remove permanently injured workers from the system sooner, regardless of medical evidence or ability to return to work. It takes medical decisions about an injured worker’s recovery out of the hands of doctors and sets arbitrary and unreasonable standards instead. The bill also does not address what will happen to workers that are too ill or hurt to return to work and shifts the responsibility from insurance companies to government social services programs paid for by taxpayers.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be defeated.

 

Call To Action

LABOR LOBBYISTS MEETING

Monday, March 13, 2017, 1:00pm
100 South Swan St., Albany, NY

Senator Fred Akshar, Chair of an Informal Senate Workgroup on Workers Compensation will address the lobbyists.

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

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workers-comp

New proposals to cut the benefits for injured workers have been introduced in both houses of the legislature and there will no doubt be attempts to force these proposals into the budget. These proposals would devastate the livelihoods of injured workers and their families. They would shift the responsibility of insurance companies to pay for the care and treatment of injured workers to social service programs and burden state and local property taxpayers with the cost.

Workplace injuries and illness have a devastating effect on workers and their families. Most lose large percentages of their incomes if they cannot work. On top of that, injured workers face a nightmare of litigation, challenges to the care they need and delays in the process of receiving wage replacement.

The truth is, the cost of benefits for workers is only a portion of the overall premium that is charged to employers. The new proposals do not even consider the expenses of insurance companies and other interests including billing companies, private investigators, independent medical examiners and dozens of other vendors that make tremendous profits off the system but stymie the ability of injured workers to access care and benefits.

In addition to reducing the costs outlined above, there are numerous other ways to reduce employer costs without benefit cuts. We should quantify savings already built into the system and specifically target it to premium reduction. We should examine the ratemaking process itself and we should maximize the use of discount programs for employers with above average or improved safety records.

The NYS AFL-CIO will work to find other meaningful but fair savings for employers. But first and foremost we will fight any attempts to reduce the benefits to injured workers and their families.

Mario Cilento, President

aca-healthcare
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and extremist Republican leaders in Congress held hearings this week on their plan to take away health care from millions of families.

We didn’t know the full details of the bill because they literally had the text locked behind closed doors in a basement in Congress until Monday night. They finally released the text, and it’s as bad as we thought it would be. Millions of people will have their health benefits eliminated under their plan, millionaires will get a huge tax break and working people will be hit with a permanent tax on their health care benefits.

We’re hearing that they want to ram this bill through quickly to hold a final vote on it in the House by the end of the month, so the Senate can take it up in April. We need to act now.

Sign the petition immediately to tell Congress you oppose plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it will take away health care benefits from millions of people, give a huge tax break to millionaires and impose a burdensome permanent tax on working people’s health benefits.

I heard a lot of powerful stories shared with members of Congress at town halls across the country last month. Mothers who are still alive because of cancer treatment they received under the Affordable Care Act. Families who, for the first time, didn’t have to make the difficult decision of putting food on the table or paying for doctor visits and prescription drugs.

That’s what makes the proposals of out-of-touch Republicans so infuriating. People’s lives are on the line and they hid the specific details of this plan from us until the last minute, so they didn’t have to face angry constituents.

But their playbook is the same as it has been for years now. They want to:

  1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement that ensures everyone has quality, affordable health care.
  2. Gut Medicaid benefits for millions of people and dismantle Medicare.
  3. Give millionaires big tax breaks on their health benefits.
  4. Impose a permanent tax on employer-provided benefits for tens of thousands of families.

Virtually everything working people have gained to improve health and retirement security since the 1940s is now at risk, including Medicare, Medicaid, workplace health plans, the Affordable Care Act and Social Security.

Our families and communities deserve better. We need to continue to fight to make quality, affordable health care a basic right.

Add your name immediately to the petition to Congress to make it clear you oppose the reckless plans of Republicans to take away health care benefits from millions of people.

In Solidarity,

Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

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Buy-American-Salt

I need your help.

I am a miner at American Rock Salt near Rochester, the largest operating salt mine in the United States. My colleagues and I work underground, where we help extract the salt that is used for de-icing, helping to keep roads safe for millions of Americans during the cold winter months.

I am so proud of what I do — especially since American Rock Salt is the largest producing salt mine in America. And unlike our competitors, all of the salt we sell comes from the United States.

But our livelihoods are at risk. American Rock Salt recently lost a contract with Erie County for a year’s worth of de-icing salt to a company from Canada, despite the fact that we were ready to do the work at a competitive price. Sadly, 12 of my colleagues lost their jobs as a result.

Now you and I have the chance to stand up for those 12 miners.

Right now, New York legislators are considering a proposal to ensure any government purchase over $100,000 abides by Buy American preferences.

It’s really just commonsense. Whenever possible, taxpayer spending like this should be used to support local jobs and invest right back into the local economy. Why send our tax dollars abroad when companies like mine are ready to do the work right here in New York, and at a fair price?

Please join me in telling state legislators to pass Buy American, and stand up for miners and other American workers like me.

Thanks,

Shane Chiappone
American Rock Salt
United Steelworkers Local 763

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February 3, 2017
Issue Five
President’s Message
Support for Buy American Is Support for New York Jobs

The Governor’s budget proposes a broad and sweeping Buy American policy for state government purchasing of commodities and materials in state contracting. This proposal is included in Part J of the Public Protection and General Government Bill.

The Governor’s bill makes a bold statement about the commitment we have as a state to companies that manufacture and operate here and hire New York workers. When manufacturers know that they have a commitment from government like the one proposed in this budget, they are much more likely to stay in New York and relocate to New York.

New York’s manufacturing industry was decimated by so called free trade agreements like NAFTA and the outflow of jobs has hurt every sector of our economy, reduced revenue at every level of government and continues to be a leading cause of people relocating elsewhere. We must do all that we can now to stop this trend and to reestablish New York as the manufacturing center of the world.

This proposal will do just that. Multiple employer and manufacturing associations across the state and nation have partnered with labor in support of this proposal, and the support is broad. Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports Buy American and a recent Siena poll pegged voter support at 82% on the Governor’s plan.

We strongly urge all of our elected officials to listen to the voters and enact Buy American this year.

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action
LABOR LOBBYISTS MEETING
Monday, February 6, 2017, 1:00 p.m. 100 South Swan St., Albany, NY
New York State Deputy Secretary for Labor Elizabeth De Leon Bhargava and other staff from the Governor’s office will address the lobbyists.SENATE COMMITTEE ON LABOR
Monday, February 6, 2017, 12 Noon. Room 123 CAP
NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento will be guest speaking. 
Issue of the Week
 SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT


A3039 Moya, et al/S471-A Peralta 
This legislation creates the New York DREAM Fund Commission and extends opportunities for undocumented students to attend college. It also expands State financial aid eligibility and provides greater access to the New York State 529 family tuition savings account program to those students.  

Immigrants and their families have been a vital part of our state and national economy for centuries. Immigrant labor has always been a critical part of our nation’s future and that remains true today. Now, more than ever, getting a college education is key to every individual’s economic future. It is time we ensure this opportunity is available to this vital segment of the population. We urge passage of this bill.