Legislative Alert: May 31, 2019

President's Message

Gig Economy Workers Need Our Help Now 

A recent study initiated by the NYS AFL-CIO and conducted by the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations identified, in detail, a myriad of issues and unconscionable problems that workers in the growing “gig economy” are subjected to. After months of policy studies, polls, interviews and focus groups with the workers themselves the final report concludes that we need to act now to protect the rights of these workers. 

Most people are familiar with the gig economy through well-established “app” employers like Uber or Lyft, but the sector has grown dramatically over the last several years. Today, these employers operate in package delivery, food service, retail, domestic services, construction and increasingly in other sectors. This growth has been unchecked and completely unregulated in terms of labor issues. 

The Cornell report reveals that complaints from gig workers about wage theft, injuries, discrimination and other issues go unanswered even as they grow in number. These workers have few protections and no access to unemployment, paid family leave, disability, the right to join a union, or any of the other rights and benefits that most other workers in this state have. 

Many of these employers claim these workers are independent contractors because they have flexible hours, often do not work full-time and can work for other employers. The truth is, these employers hire and fire these workers, assign work, determine the pay rate and other terms and conditions of employment and make a profit off of their labor. 

Further, many other workers who are part-time or have multiple employers, such as in construction, are considered employees and have rights. So should gig economy employees. Finally, more and more of these workers are in fact working full time and relying on this work as their main source of income. Gig employees deserve fairness and their employers need oversight. 

The NYS AFL-CIO urges everyone to join this fight and establish basic rights for gig employees and to find common ground about how to establish basic fairness for these workers.

Mario Cilento, President 

Call To Action

Monday, June 3, 2019, 1:00 p.m. 
100 South Swan Street, Albany, NY 

Issue of the Week

Restore Due Process for Public Employees (S.5205/A.7624)

This bill amends the Civil Service Law to require the appointment of an independent hearing officer in disciplinary actions brought against a public employee by a public employer. 

Under present law, an employer may bring charges against an employee for an alleged disciplinary infraction. The employer selects the hearing officer and after a disciplinary proceeding, may impose judgment based on the recommendation of the hearing officer. Thus, the appointing authority acts as the prosecutor, judge, and jury, a circumstance in direct contrast to the American legal system and the due process of law. 

This legislation will bring impartiality and fairness to disciplinary hearings with an independent hearing officer presiding. 

Therefore, this Federation urges this bill be passed.