Legislative Alert: January 18, 2022

President's Message

2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS BEGINS

The legislative session is underway as we continue to address the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, an uncertain economy and a condensed legislative calendar. Despite various uncertainties, we remain focused on the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce. Working with our affiliates, we will continue to build upon the legislative, budgetary and other measures our elected officials put forth the last two years to address these challenges.

Implementation and enforcement of the NY Hero Act, protecting workers and ensuring workers’ compensation is available for illness that occurs at work, will remain priorities. This includes making sure mental health issues are treated equally with other illness and injury as it relates to workers' compensation coverage.

Just as important, we need to provide fully staffed and fully funded state operated, mental health services, not only for the workforce but for anyone who needs them. For too long, we have cut state services for mental health and addiction, abandoning those who need help  and leaving local governments, emergency rooms and law enforcement to pick up the pieces with little to no resources and inadequate training and support. 

We will work hard to restore funding for all the public services that were cut as a result of a long-term and ill-advised 2% cap on state spending and a property tax cap on local and school revenues. These policies have come back to haunt our communities during the pandemic and left our education, health care, public safety, transportation and countless other services stressed to the limit.

Fixing all of this starts by enacting an aggressive recruitment and retention program to

staff-up our services at the state and local level and in our school districts. We need pension improvements in Tier 6 to lure qualified applicants into public service and keep the employees we have for the long term by rewarding longevity, overtime and a commitment to public service.

On behalf of everyone at the NYS-AFL-CIO, I hope everyone has returned to session healthy and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.  

Mario Cilento, President

Issue of the Week

ENSURE WORKERS SUFFERING FROM PTSD RECEIVE CARE

(S. 6373B Savino/A. 2020A Reyes)

This legislation would prohibit workers’ compensation carriers and self-insured employers from denying otherwise valid claims for PTSD and extreme stress based on a defense that the injured worker should have expected to encounter the stress, regardless of that worker’s occupation, position, or title. This defense represents a regressive and outdated approach to mental health. Currently, carriers and self-insured employers can assert this unjustified defense unless the worker in question has one of a very few titles that have already been carved out.

Workers injured or sickened at work deserve the full protections of the workers’ compensation law and all the care and benefits it affords, regardless of whether their injury or illness is physical or mental. Eliminating this regressive defense for all workers, regardless of title, represents another step toward eliminating the stigma and disparate treatment of mental illness. It also represents a step toward ensuring that injured and ill workers get prompt, high-quality care and adequate wage replacement, to recover from injuries and get back to work. This legislation will ease access to benefits for all workers with work-related PTSD, including those suffering as a result of COVID-19 or workplace harassment or abuse. Further, it will help ensure that healthcare workers and other frontline workers receive the care they need for trauma suffered as a result of caring for the sick and serving the public all while witnessing firsthand the devastation wrought by a global pandemic. Their trauma has been exacerbated by factors such as excessive use of mandatory overtime, short staffing, and extreme fatigue.  

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.