Legislative Alert: January 11, 2019

President's Message

Union Strong for Working Families 

I want to welcome labor representatives from across the state and all our elected officials for the 2019 legislative session. There is change in the air in Albany and we are confident this means good news for working families across the state. As the new Senate Majority establishes itself and works with the Assembly Majority and Governor, it is important to remember that the struggles of working women and men continue to grow. 

We know that a progressive agenda cannot be truly progressive unless it includes an economic component that lifts working families up first. This means helping increase pay, health and retirement benefits, but also improving the vital public services that keep our state strong and vibrant. Our infrastructure, transportation systems, education and higher education, health care and local governments need investment and improvement. 

Programs that benefit and protect women and men on the job, such as workers compensation, unemployment benefits, the scaffold safety law and other health and safety programs all must be protected. Because it has been targeted by the federal government, the most important right we must protect is the right to join a union, so workers can have a voice in the workplace. This fundamental right that is guaranteed by the New York State Constitution has been under attack by right wing zealots backed by billionaires and corporate interests that do not believe workers should have the right to join together, and rather should be left to fend for themselves.   

Here in New York we have been fighting that zealotry, but we must continue to do so like never before. That is what the Union Strong Campaign is all about. As you come to Albany, and in your local communities, please note the Union Strong billboards and advertisements that herald this fight. 

We will be sending you our 2019 Union Strong Legislative Agenda soon. All the issues described above – and many more - will be a part of this campaign. We look forward to working with everyone in the coming year to improve the lives of our members and all working people.

Mario Cilento, President 

Call To Action

Monday, January 14, 2019, 1:00 p.m. 
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 

Issue of the Week

Support Absentee Ballot Access (S. 1049 Comrie/A. 778 Vanel, et al)

This bill would amend the New York State Constitution to remove limitations on allowing absentee ballot voting in primary and general elections. This will increase voter participation and make it easier for individuals to vote.

The current language in the constitution requires that a person be out of their county of residence or physically unable to vote in person due to illness or physical disability to be eligible to vote absentee. This language is too restrictive and does not account for a myriad of legitimate reasons that a person may be unable to vote in person on election day.  

The current restrictions do not consider that individuals have child care and family responsibilities, multiple jobs and unstable work schedules that inhibit the ability of people to attend the polls in person. Also, individual transportation needs vary greatly from urban to rural areas and access to the polls is not easy for many people.

The need for this bill is clear. New York’s voter participation has been dismal and year after year voter turnout in New York ranks among the bottom of all states. This bill will address one aspect of this problem by making it easier to vote absentee for many who otherwise would not be able to vote at all.

Therefore this federation urges passage.