Legislative Alert: April 29, 2022

Legislative Alert
President's Message

Strengthen the WARN Act

New York State’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) is intended to provide protection to workers and communities from the often-devastating consequences of a mass layoff by an employer and to create an adjustment and transition period. The WARN Act not only requires notice for workers to prepare for the personal financial struggles that may occur but allows time for workers to upgrade skills and seek new employment.

Communities are also reliant on the WARN Act as school districts and local governments often lose a tremendous amount of revenue if an employer closes and their employees are forced into unemployment or need to relocate.   

Many of the provisions of the WARN Act need updating as employers have been able to avoid the intentions of the act by exploiting loopholes in the law. For example, definitions about employer size as it relates to applicability of the law, ambiguity about coverage of subsidiary employers, and the ability to avoid compliance based on factors like “reasonably foreseeable” events affecting layoffs, all force complex legal proceedings that often defeat the purpose of the law.

In addition to closing the loopholes that avoid compliance, we should ensure that employers are required to pay a severance to the workers impacted by the mass layoff announcements.  This has been successfully enacted in New Jersey and will create the stability and fairness that the WARN Act is intended to provide for workers and communities alike. Finally, we should increase penalties for violations of the WARN Act or for blatant attempts to circumvent the requirements. 

Mario Cilento, President

Upcoming Meetings

All meetings are now in-person.

LABOR LOBBYISTS MEETING

Monday, May 2, 2022, 1:00 p.m.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli will be the guest speaker. 

NURSE ISSUES COMMITTEE MEETING 

Monday, May 2, 2022, 3:00 p.m.

TAYLOR LAW TASK FORCE MEETING 

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 1:00 p.m.

Issue of the Week

Restore Fairness in APPR

A9600 Benedetto/S8276A Mayer

This bill would provide a statutory tenure process for probationary teachers, principals and supervising staff while suspending the annual professional performance review (APPR) process for the 2022-23 school year, due to ongoing learning disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation also ensures that school districts cannot have their state funding withheld for not conducting the APPR process.

The United States Department of Education is again requiring states to administer standardized tests to students this year, even though disruptions in the continuity of our children’s education throughout the pandemic have significantly impacted how educators teach and students learn. These statewide variations will result in the inequitable administration of tests and gaps in data, which in turn will produce flawed test results that are not a true indicator of a student’s progress or needs, nor do they accurately reflect an educator’s ability.

In New York State, the APPR process is used to evaluate teachers, principals and supervising staff. It is also used in the granting of tenure and determining the allocation of state support to schools. To ensure that we are not penalizing our schools for circumstances well beyond their control, New York State must suspend the APPR process.

Tenure is a necessary safeguard to protect teachers, students and the quality of our public schools. It allows teachers to speak freely and strongly on matters of public education and ensures that teachers have the freedom to teach effectively and the right to oppose policies or cuts that harm students and their schools. The institution of tenure is also essential to attract and retain dedicated educators and to protect free expression, including a teacher's ability to stand up for his or her students.

As we enter the third year of pandemic learning, we have seen numerous disruptions caused by transportation shortages and waves of quarantines for both students and educators ― which has exacerbated existing staffing shortages. Standardized testing will not provide results that reflect what a student needs in terms of enrichment, nor will it reflect an educator’s skill or professionalism.

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.