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Legislative Alert: January 6, 2023

New York State AFL-CIO
18 Jan, 2023
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President's Message

2023 Legislative Session Begins 
It is my pleasure to welcome everyone back for the 2023 legislative session and wish everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year. The challenges of the past several years have been monumental, but the labor movement came together in an unprecedented way to combat so many of the difficulties that our state and nation faced and continue to grapple with.

A major priority has always been the safety and health of the workforce, and that remains the most critical issue moving forward as we address the spread and effects of the pandemic and other various health and safety issues that affect working people. While we have restored some sense of normalcy, the COVID-19 virus has not been eradicated and various other respiratory illnesses and other issues remain a concern. We will remain vigilant.

Offsetting the effects of climate change has also become a top-level priority for the entire labor movement. We will continue to push for meaningful decarbonization efforts to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emission goals and transition our entire economy to a clean, energy-efficient model. Following my involvement on the Climate Action Council last year, I will continue working closely with each affiliate impacted by climate change policies, as well as business, environment, energy, academic, and community organizations to make this happen.

As I have made clear, reducing emissions is in of itself not enough. We must make sure we have a just transition that ensures no one is left behind, and no one loses employment. We must ensure that all newly created jobs are family-sustaining and union-represented. Employee protections, project labor agreements, prevailing wage, labor peace agreements, Buy American, and adequate training programs for workers should be enshrined directly into the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to make this happen.    

We will continue our efforts to solve the widespread staffing shortage problem, as too many employers are struggling to recruit and retain workers. We will continue the drive for pension improvements, as the shortsighted Tier 6 pension cuts are the main reason for staffing issues in the public sector. In the private sector, we will push for indexation of the state’s minimum wage to help recruit workers. Our state’s minimum wage has increased on an ad hoc basis and is disparate by sector and by region. On top of that, inflation has already eroded the value of the $15.00 minimum wage. Indexation will ensure the minimum wage stays current and meaningful while also providing predictability for employees and employers alike.

Finally, we will continue our efforts to combat the scourge of racism, discrimination, and vitriol in our public discourse. We will support budget proposals that increase funding for mental health and alternatives to incarceration programs. We will also continue our ongoing efforts to bring law enforcement and community groups together, and continue to fund training and programs that support this. And, we will continue to support proposals to increase voter participation, expand social and economic inclusiveness and eradicate discrimination in all its forms.

None of these challenges are easy but as we have in the past, we will work together to make 2023 successful on all of these issues and many more.

Mario Cilento, President

Upcoming Meeting

NYS AFL-CIO State of the State Breakfast Meeting 
Tuesday, January 10, 2023, 8:30 a.m. 
100 South Swan St, Albany 
A light breakfast and refreshments will be served. 
Please RSVP to Nagma Singh at nsingh@nysaflcio.org