Legislative Alert: January 24, 2020

President's Message

Fairness and Flexibility for Gig Workers

The overwhelming public support for ending the unfair treatment of their workers, has led app-based companies to engage in a public campaign to convince people that somehow the flexible hours that many of their workers enjoy will disappear if they have to follow the labor laws that apply to every other employer in New York.  

They are waging this campaign because a report by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations on the work experiences of gig economy workers shows unstable earnings, lack of benefits and harassment were common concerns for these workers. Also, a recent poll by Siena Research Institute found that 75 percent of those polled support ensuring that workers in the gig economy receive basic employee protections.

App-based companies have driven down labor standards since their inception, hurting gig workers, while simultaneously disadvantaging traditional businesses who correctly classify their workers as employees. There is no reason app-based companies should not abide by the same rules as traditional employers, particularly when in many instances, gig workers perform the same job as traditional employees.

Governor Cuomo has recognized this and emphasized that more than 40 percent of New Yorkers will be employed in the gig economy this year. He has put forth a framework to give these workers a fighting chance to be treated fairly while enjoying the same rights and protections as other workers.

These companies challenge every ruling and new law that attempts to fix this problem and now they are spending millions on ads that tacitly threaten to take away flexibility from their workers. This behavior is exactly why we have labor laws in the first place. Given the reports of wage and tip theft, harassment, worker injuries and unaddressed labor complaints, the time to act is now.

Mario Cilento, President

Call To Action

Monday, January 27, 2020, 1:00 p.m.
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY
Ron Deutsch from the Fiscal Policy Institute will give a budget overview.

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

Issue of the Week

Make Buy American Permanent

Support Part EE of the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation Budget Proposal

Governor Cuomo has proposed building on the historic Buy American law that he signed in 2017, by making it a permanent part of New York’s construction procurement process. The law created a preference for iron and steel made in the United States on roads and bridges constructed by several key state agencies and public authorities. This common-sense law helps create and preserve American manufacturing jobs and ensures environmental and labor standards are among the considerations when contractors purchase iron and steel for these projects.

The initial law had an expiration date April 15, 2020. The success of this law and its purpose and intent both merit that the expiration date be eliminated, and the law be made permanent. We urge support of this important proposal.