Legislative Alert – 1/30/2012

President’s Message

Working Families Indexation of the Minimum Wage

The cyclical calls for increasing the state’s minimum wage have begun, and clearly living on the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is nearly impossible. While we do need an immediate increase in the minimum wage, the fact is we need to change the discussion to make sure we lift all New Yorkers and their economic security.

Unfortunately, a simple increase in the minimum wage is not sufficient to do this. We need to do more because New Yorkers deserve better.  Modestly increasing the minimum wage every 5 or 10 years makes for great sound bites, but the reality is these modest increases do very little to lift the working poor into a stable income and they do very little for the vast majority of working families.

We need indexation of the minimum wage benefit so that those at the lowest levels of the wage scale have reliable and recurring increases. This is a useful tool to make sure that the bottom rung of wage earners keeps pace with increases in the cost of living. More than that, it will help continually raise the floor, making sure all working New Yorkers are lifted up.

Regular, recurring review by the legislature, the Comptroller or the Commissioner of Labor could produce the basis for increases.  In fact, the Commissioner of Labor can currently convene wage review boards, a system that has worked well in the past and produced wage increases for petitioners from time to time.

We are committed to working with the Governor, Assembly and Senate as well as the Department of Labor to address this issue to make changes in the minimum wage laws that are progressive and meaningful.

Mario Cilento, President

Call to Action

Monday, January 30, 2012
1:00 p.m., 100 South Swan St, Albany

Frank Mauro will give a briefing on the Governor’s Budget

Issue of the Week

TIER 6 IS UNFAIRPublic employee retirement benefits have been reduced under the new pension tier enacted in 2010, Tier 5. The Tier 5 reforms will save New York taxpayers $35 billion over the next 30 yrs.State employees have negotiated new contracts that include wage freezes, pay lags, dramatic increases in health care premiums, unpaid furloughs and other wage and benefit reductions, saving millions in tax dollars.Local government and school district employees have taken the same freezes and reductions as their State employee counterparts to reduce local taxes; many even voluntarily opened up their contracts to agree to these cutbacks in an effort to avoid layoffs.Despite these sacrifices, thousands of public employees including teachers, nurses, police officers and fire fighters across the state are standing in the same unemployment line as private sector workers.

Keep An Eye On
New York State AFL-CIO Pension Task Force Meeting, 3:00 p.m., 100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY.

Corporate Tax Reform Workshop sponsored by Fiscal Policy Institute and  New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness at the NYS AFL-CIO, 12:00-1:30 p.m., 100 South Swan Street, Albany. If interested in attending e-mail your name and contact info to dodgepatsyl@hotmail.com