Legislative Alert: January 25, 2019

President's Message

Temporary Agreement is Good News for Federal Workers Caught in Ugly Politics

While it is good news for federal workers who were not getting paid that an agreement has been reached to temporarily end the federal government shutdown. It should not be lost on anyone that the shutdown shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The shutdown highlights the ongoing and callous disregard for working men and women that is afflicting our nation. 

Our federal workforce provides the vital federal services and programs that keep our country safe and prosperous and they deserve better. It is outrageous that those who are considered essential to the safety and security of our nation had to go without pay for over a month and could be back without pay soon if a long-term agreement is not reached by mid-February. No worker should ever be put in this situation and left to worry about whether they can afford their mortgage or rent and their bills for necessities. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in the private sector.   

This struggle only highlights the importance of strong unemployment and labor laws, to ensure that when employers show such disregard, the livelihoods of workers are not destroyed. Moreover, this shutdown shows why unions are more important than ever, to help provide the services, representation and wherewithal for workers to access needed support programs and to fight against this injustice collectively. 

On behalf of our affiliates representing many of these federal employees, the American Federation of Government Employees, we offer a heartfelt thank you to all the labor unions, union members and public officials that participated in rallies, events and offered support for programs to help our federal workforce. We also thank the many private sector entities that have set up policies to offer loans or defer expenses for federal workers until they receive their back pay. 

We extend our thanks to the Governor, State Department of Labor and other state agencies. We commit to continue working together with these offices to help assist federal workers –and for that matter help all workers every day – to access benefits and assistance they need.

Mario Cilento, President 

Call To Action

Monday, January 28, 2019, 1:00 p.m. 
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 

Ron Deutsch from the Fiscal Policy Institute will be our guest speaker and give the FPI budget breakdown.

Issue of the Week

Oppose Expanding Design-Build
Part D of S1508/A2008
Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Protection Bill

Design-build is a process that circumvents competitive bidding in public works projects for construction. This initially passed in a special session in December of 2011 and has since been extended several times. The executive budget proposes to expand the types of projects eligible for design-build and expand it to the Dormitory Authority, the NYS Urban Development Corp., the Office of General Services, the Department of Health and the NYS Olympic Regional Development Authority.

The New York State AFL-CIO opposes expanding authority to new government entities to avoid competitive bidding laws because enforcement and oversight of labor protections are closely tied to competitive bidding. Just as important, competitive bidding laws provide transparency and public oversight of the contracting process to ensure it is open and fair. Design-build weakens labor protections by changing this process.

Proponents claim design-build allows faster project approval at a savings. There is no evidence that shows any projects would not have happened otherwise. Design-build simply makes it easier for bids that may not reflect the true cost of a project be approved because design-build awards contracts on the subjective basis of “best value” as opposed to the more objective “lowest responsible bidder.” This in fact opens the door to costlier bids and to bidders with bad labor records or bad environmental, insurance or minority and women hiring histories.

In some circumstances, design-build may make sense. In those instances, the legislature and executive have always had the ability to approve design-build contracting but at the same time ensure all of the appropriate worker and relevant protections are in place. It is time to return to that process and allow the design-build law to expire.