Legislative Alert: January 21, 2020

President's Message

Gig Economy Workers Deserve Fairness

A top priority this year will be the fight to ensure that gig economy workers are no longer treated as second class citizens. Problems with wage and tip theft, unfair hiring, safety and worker injuries, unresolved claims of discrimination or harassment and other unfair workplace situations are common. We need to do better for these workers and end their exploitation.

The companies claim that new technology and flexible hours justifies lower standards for gig workers has a very hollow ring. Twenty-first century tech does not equate to 19th century labor practices and flexible schedules does not mean lower standards. Gig workers should not receive substandard treatment if they are injured, unemployed, cheated out of pay, or harassed while they work, no matter their hours. There are plenty of part-time, seasonal, temporary and other positions in multiple sectors of the economy that have flexible hours, but whose employers meet their obligations.

Make no mistake, claiming that these workers are independent contractors is a strategy to misclassify workers and avoid costs associated with the rights, benefits and protections all other employers provide. Misclassification is a problem that is not limited to the growing tech economy, but it is a completely unchecked and growing problem in this sector. To a large extent, the future of works lies in this area, so it is critical that we establish fairness and equality for these workers now.

Unfortunately, many of these app-based employers chose to take advantage of the fact that no-one was regulating them. The NYS AFL-CIO intends to change that. We urge everyone to take a closer look at the unfair situation that has developed in the gig economy. It threatens the future of work in our state and nation.

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action

Monday, January 27, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
100 South Swan Street., Albany, NY

Monday, January 27, 2020, 6-8pm
The Observation Deck-Corning Tower
Empire State Plaza., Albany, NY

Issue of the Week

Protect and Strengthen Medicaid

Recent reports that growth in Medicaid spending has outpaced the state’s self-imposed spending cap have largely ignored important contributing factors including growth in enrollment, the cost of raising the minimum wage for workers paid by Medicaid, cost-shifting from the Medicaid reimbursement rate freeze and cuts and freezes in safety net/indigent care and support services.

Medicaid is a lifeline for 6 million of New York’s most vulnerable citizens and a critical support system for our state’s safety net hospitals, indigent care and health care services.

We must not harm beneficiaries or the safety net/indigent care and health care services they rely on. Instead, the state should focus on the impact that insurance company profits have on the delivery of health care services as well as other revenue alternatives to help shore-up the system.