State Budget a Win for Organized Labor and Working People
Albany, NY – “The Labor Movement’s solidarity and coordinated efforts amongst its public sector, private sector and building trades unions throughout the state resulted in several unprecedented victories on behalf of working people,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO.
The budget includes ‘fair share’ revenue raisers that look beyond the one-shot federal aid coming into the state. Raising taxes on some of the wealthiest New Yorkers restores severe cuts to our health care system and turns around proposed cuts in education to make progress in responsibly funding our schools. It will also help fund vital state services, and our local governments into the future.
This budget includes historic labor standards on renewable energy projects across the state setting a high bar by including prevailing rate, labor peace, Buy American and Buy New York when renewable energy credits are awarded on large scale projects. This is a tremendous victory that will create solid jobs utilizing a highly skilled workforce as we address climate change.
Another key priority passed in conjunction with the budget is the legalization of adult-use cannabis which provides the foundation for a new revenue and job-creating industry that will sustain our economy for generations. We are very pleased the legislation includes labor peace as an ongoing condition of licensure for cannabis businesses. And the NYS AFL-CIO’s commitment to racial and social justice took a step forward with funding for a cannabis social and equity program that will assist communities’ transition into the new legalized market.
One of labor’s primary goals of this session was to secure much needed funding for the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment program, a vital program that will help thousands of families navigate the challenges of accessing and paying for child care. The budget directs $2.3 billion in federal resources to expand child care.
Creating New Industries, Enhanced Revenue, and Jobs
The budget includes a state-run system of legalized mobile sports betting and paves the way for three new casinos downstate which will generate more revenue and create solid middle-class jobs. The NYS AFL-CIO will work with its affiliates to make this happen.
The pandemic revealed the glaring need for increased broadband access for lower income New Yorkers who were unfairly isolated, particularly when schools went to remote learning. The budget includes more affordable broadband statewide.
Fighting the Pandemic
The budget includes a requirement that nursing homes dedicate a significant portion of their revenue into direct patient care with a substantial amount set aside to fund staffing levels more adequately. In addition, legislation that grants four hours of paid leave, per dose, for all public and private sector workers to get their COVID vaccine was originally included in the budget but passed weeks earlier out of need.
For affiliated members in the entertainment industry who not only lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but many also lost their health insurance; the budget includes $2 million in COBRA assistance. It will ensure these struggling workers can continue their health insurance coverage at a time when they need it most.
“We thank Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Heastie for passing a budget that lays the groundwork needed for our recovery.
“The unified efforts of the Labor Movement will help working people during this challenging time. We remain committed to working with all interested parties to ensure we build back better, make workplaces safer for everyone and improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” Cilento added.