Legislative Alert – April 29th, 2013

President’s Message

Farmworker Rights Must be End of Session Goal

The fact that there are people working in this state that are not entitled to  basic worker rights is a source of shame for this state.  Unfortunately, I am not talking about the right to a decent retirement, civil service or job protections, prevailing rate or other basic protections.

Farmworkers are afforded none of those very important things that we all enjoy. The reality is, those protections would be considered luxuries to a farmworker, not a right.

These people do not have the right to a day of rest during the week. They do not get overtime, even though they on average work 60 hours a week and many times, many more hours than that. This is often backbreaking work, involving heavy duty equipment. It includes exposure to pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in sometimes dangerous conditions.

If a farmworker tries to start a union or join a union, or if they even try to speak out on their own behalf, they can be fired, at will, with no explanation or reason. There is no seniority. There are no representatives or attorneys. There is no recourse.  They can be blacklisted. They can be abused.

The Labor Movement has consistently opposed free trade agreements with other nations because these same conditions exist for workers in those countries. How can we justify keeping our laws exactly the same, right here in New York State?

I ask everyone to remember as we sit down to eat our meals whether breakfast lunch or dinner, that there is a good chance that the dairy products, produce, wine or countless other products we enjoy came from the hard work of these men, women and children.

They deserve our respect, they deserve the same rights as other workers have, and they deserve it now.

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action

Monday, April 29, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
100 South Swan Street, Albany

Commissioner of Labor Peter Rivera will address the Lobbyists.

Issue of the Week

A. 6635 Heastie/S. 4470 Savino
Higher Education Employment Protection Act

This bill provides that instructional employees of higher education institutions, who are offered employment on a contingent basis, are eligible for unemployment benefits unless the employer provides sufficient evidence that the employee will in fact have a position when the semester begins.

Currently, employees in educational positions are denied eligibility for unemployment between sessions, simply because the employer sends a letter stating that they have a reasonable chance of employment.  The reality, however, is that the work of many of these employees is contingent upon enrollment, funding or other factors, which fail to materialize,  resulting in faculty members losing their positions. Many times this means the employee has not worked for several months, which puts his/her personal life and fiscal well-being in jeopardy.

Unemployment benefits are there to help workers who have lost their positions bridge the gap while not working.   This will do just that for these employees who have for too long been denied this right.

Keep an Eye On

MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2013 Infrastructure Task Force Meeting, 2 p.m.,100 South Swan Street, Albany.  (Immediately following the Labor Lobbyists meeting).

SAVE THE DATE:  Thursday, August  1, 2013-NYS AFL-CIO COPE DAY AT THE RACES. For details www.nysaflcio.org.

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