Issues: Workers Rights

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Fight Wage Theft: Pass the SWEAT (Securing Wages Earned Against Theft) bill, which would enable workers owed previously earned wages to file a wage lien against the assets of their employer.

Card Check: Extend the right to majority sign-up or card-check recognition of union bargaining status to all New York workers, with the right of new unions to submit a first contract to binding arbitration at the request of the union.

Just Cause: Enact a Wrongful Discharge From Employment Act that protects employees from at will discharges by providing that after a probationary period an employee can be terminated only for just cause defined as failure to satisfactorily perform job duties, disruption of operations, or other legitimate business reasons.

Wage Board Sectoral Bargaining: Expand the use of wage boards to that bring together unions, businesses, and government to bargain for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for employees across a specific industries, especially in low-wage sectors as home health care, retailing, and farm work, as was done in recent years for fast food workers and tipped workers in New York.

Prohibit 24-Hour Workdays and Unpaid Labor on 24-Hour Shifts: Replace 24-Hour shifts in the home care industry with split shifts. Repeal the NYS Department of Labor regulation allowing no pay for 11 hours of 24-hour shifts by home care workers. Following three state appellate court rulings in 2016 and 2017 requiring healthcare agencies to pay home care workers for all their hours on 24-hour shifts, Governor Cuomo’s Department of Labor issued “emergency regulations” in October consistent with contrary federal court rulings allowing payment for only 13 hours. Repeal this regulation. Unpaid labor is slavery.

Keep the Triborough Amendment: Oppose proposals to repeal the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. The 1967 Taylor Law (Public Employees Fair Employment Act) permits public employees to organize unions, but denies them the right to strike. Management had little incentive to bargain in good faith with public employee unions that had no right to strike until the 1982 Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law. The Triborough Amendment rebalanced the power between management and public employees by providing that when there is an impasse in negotiations when a contact expires, the terms of the previous contract continue. Arbitration (binding for police and fire, advisory for others) is employed to help resolve the dispute. If the Triborough Amendment were repealed, management would have no incentive to negotiate a fair contract because it could then change the contract as it saw fit, leaving the workers and their unions with no legal recourse.

Guaranteed Retirement Accounts: Expand the new voluntary New York State Secure Choice Savings Program into a mandatory system of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts that provide a return of at least 3 percent above inflation guaranteed by the state government, with workers and employers each contributing 2.5 percent of income by payroll deduction and, upon retirement, with a monthly annuity check indexed to inflation.

Child Care and Elder Care: Subsidized, high quality child care and elder care for all who need it.

Labor Law Protections for Farmworkers: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

Labor Law Protections for Prisoners: Enact legislation to end the super-exploitation of prison labor at pennies per hour, which undercuts the wages of workers and earnings of businesses outside the prison system. The prison labor system as it exists now is akin to slavery and the prison labor camps in other authoritarian countries. Work done by prisoners can be part of rehabilitation and enable prisoners to acquire job skills, support their families, and have savings upon release. Work done by prisoners for private contractors and for public services should be paid prevailing wages. Prison workers should have all the protections of labor law, including the right to organize unions.

Protect the Scaffold Safety Law: Construction work in New York State is made safer by the Scaffold Safety Law, which holds employers accountable when workers are injured or killed because employers cut corners on the safety of people working at heights.

Worker-Inspectors to Enforce Workplace Health and Safety: Enact state legislation to establish the right of workers to enforce safety and health regulations in a program that trains and certifies workers to be on-the-job inspectors in every workplace. OSHA is too underfunded and understaffed by the federal government to adequately protect workers and communities. Because workers know their work sites, worker-inspectors would be better able to protect the workforce and the community from industrial hazards and accidents.Worker-inspectors would be protected from employer reprisals and have the power to:

  • Shut down hazardous operations.

  • Enforce the right of every worker to refuse unsafe work.

  • Investigate incidents to uncover their root causes and to force the implementation of their findings,

  • Block the introduction of new chemicals untested for their impacts on human health and the environment.

Just Transition: Establish a Just Transition Income Support Program to compensate all workers whose jobs are eliminated by steps taken to protect the environment. Displaced workers would receive full income and benefits as they make the transition to alternative work.

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