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  • CWA wins big FOR NEW YORK'S WORKING FAMILIES
    Updated On: Jun 20, 2023

    We fought hard this legislative session. And when we fight, we win!

    CWA members threw down hard - we had: 

    • 6 lobby days

    • 30+ members participated in our LPAT training 

    • 7 trainers led LPAT sessions

    • 180  meetings 

    • 50 total members lobbying

    • Rallies and press conferences

    • Over 5,000 emails sent

    This was an incredible amount of work and it absolutely paid off! 

    So, how did we do?

    Overall, we won three big campaigns (eliminating SUNY graduate fees, CUNY SLU funding, and protecting workers from captive audience meetings), had partial wins on two (hospital funding and minimum wage), and advanced two more (worker retention in call centers and unemployment for striking workers).

    Budget Fights: 

    1. Graduate Worker Fees.  MAJOR VICTORY! The final budget included $3 million to begin the process of phasing out SUNY graduate worker fees. This is a campaign that we have been working on for almost 4 years. This is an enormous victory! 

    2. CUNY Funding. MAJOR VICTORY! We are on a multiple year program for NYS to eventually provide $8 Million in operations for CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Each year, we’ve been able to get closer to that goal. This year we asked for AND WON a total of $5.75 million. Excellent work to all!

    3. Inadequate Hospital Funding: PARTIAL WIN. The final budget included $500M for safety nets/distressed hospitals and 7.5% increase to Medicaid reimbursement rates for Hospitals and Long term care. We were fighting for $1.3B in safety net/distressed hospital funding as well as an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rates by 10%. The Gov’s Exec budget did not include any money for hospitals and only a 5% increase. While the enacted budget is better than nothing, this level of funding for our healthcare systems is completely inadequate. It is a very tiny pot for a ton of hospitals. At this level of funding, we can expect hospital closures, reduced services, worse staffing, etc. Workers and patients will pay the price. However, it is important to reiterate that this very easily could have been zero, and the fact that there was ANYTHING in there at all is because of our advocacy and our work here! Well done.

    4. Disappointing Minimum Wage Deal. PROGRESS MADE. The final deal in the budget raises the minimum wage to $16/hr in NYC and its suburbs, $15 everywhere else, with $17/hr by 2026. Indexing to inflation will begin in 2027. This is disappointing, to put it mildly. We demanded to raise the base wage to $21.25 by 2026 and in 2027 tie it to inflation. In the Gov’s exec proposal, she did not propose an increase to the base rate at all, just a tie to inflation with a number of off ramps that would allow the state to pause increases to the wage depending on the economy. No other state in the country has this language. So, while it is hard to be excited about such a lame raise to the minimum wage, especially given the language that was added to allow the State to pause the increases, we did achieve a minor increase and attaching the wage to inflation - which is a major victory.

     

    Post-Budget Legislation

    1. Captive Audience PASSED BOTH HOUSES! As you all know, captive audience meetings are a main tactic in union-busting campaigns, and because of YOUR HARD WORK this session, legislation that protects workers from being forced to attend these meetings is now on its way to the Governor's desk. Ultimately, this critical piece of legislation is about workers' fundamental, constitutionally protected, rights to free speech and being free from being held "captive" to offensive, individual speech around politics and religion, in the workplace. This is historic! We have been working on this bill since 2019. Following Connecticut and Minnesota, we are the third state to pass this bill! 

    2. Worker Retention in Call Centers PASSED THE SENATE! We did an incredible job setting this bill up to move all the way across the finish line next year. We were able to pass this bill in the Senate with 15 co–sponsors and build up the co-sponsorship to 30 in the Assembly. This legislation requires that incumbent workforces of Government-contracted call centers are retained if the contract is re-bid and awarded to a new contractor. This legislation is inspired by the important campaign of our Staten Island E-ZPass members who have been fighting for their jobs and highlighting the importance of workforce protections in government service procurement. 

    3. Reducing Unemployment Waiting Time for Striking Workers. PASSED THE SENATE! In 2019, we helped pass legislation that reduced the waiting time for striking workers to be eligible for unemployment benefits from 7 weeks to 2 weeks. This bill would change it from 2 weeks to 1 week. Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers have a legally protected right to organize, collectively bargain and strike in order to improve working conditions and benefits and wages - however, these rights are weakened by extended waiting periods for necessary benefits like unemployment insurance. Increased waiting periods threaten the financial security of striking workers and weaken workers’ rights to organize, collectively bargain and strike. We were able to pass this in the Senate with 8 co-sponsors and build to 34 co-sponsors in the Assembly.

    4. Public Banking. In Committee. While we made good progress on co-sponsorship, unfortunately, we were unable to get this out of the Banks committee in either house. We have been working on this bill for a long time but it is clear that it will be an uphill battle. Wall Street is seriously opposed to this bill and has launched a tough opposition. This is a vital bill for economic justice that will help ensure public dollars support the public good, not shareholder profits. So buckle up, because we need to stay in this fight as long as it takes!  

    So, what’s next?

    1. We need to shift our attention to making sure members know about all the work we did and the victories we won as well as thanking the legislators who helped us. Please use this toolkit which includes a flyer and social media content to spread the word.

    1. And of course, the Governor needs to sign our bill that will prevent workers from being forced to attend Captive Audience meetings. 

    1. And lastly, this is just year one of a two-year session. We have a lot of progress made that we need to build on next year. So, let’s take a breather and gear up for next year to finish what we’ve started! 

    Well done, team. We are so proud to be in this fight with you. 

    Solidarity, 

    NYS Pol Team


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