April 16, 2013
By Mario Cilento, President New York State AFL-CIO
Now that the state budget dust has settled, there remains a tremendous amount of work for the next several months. There will be countless issues that the NYS AFL-CIO and its affiliates work on, but the following have galvanized the labor movement as a whole.
The binding arbitration issue was removed from the state budget but must be addressed prior to June, as the current law sunsets and needs to be extended. Binding arbitration is a critical component of the collective bargaining process for police, fire and other employees that provide public services. We urge the legislature to look beyond the half-truths and misconceptions about this law and support the extension of this vital component of the bargaining process.
The Safe Patient Handling Act is also a priority for the NYS AFL-CIO. This bill will reduce patient injuries, improve quality of care, reduce worker injuries and reduce costs for hospitals and nursing homes. The time for this law has come and we strongly urge the legislature to pass this proposal which amounts to a win/win/win for employers, workers and most importantly, patients.
Farmworkers’ rights remain an issue that the entire labor movement in New York State agrees must be addressed immediately. The right to union representation as well as the right to overtime and a day of rest are among the basic dignities that this segment of the workforce has been denied. This is a source of shame for all New Yorkers and it must be addressed this year.
Finally, with calls for reform of the campaign finance system, the NYS AFL-CIO remains committed to ensuring that the most important electoral reform is removing barriers to voting and increasing ballot access. To truly give the government back to the voters, we must make sure that everyone who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to do so.
The NYS AFL-CIO will continue to support initiatives to make it easier to vote. This includes supporting legislation that removes onerous restrictions on access to absentee ballots to allow more individuals to vote by mail. The NYS AFL-CIO will also support legislative initiatives to allow for early voting in New York.
These issues will make a real difference in the lives of New York’s hard working families; we look forward to advancing them in the weeks and months ahead.
Please note that NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento's 'President's Message' was reprinted by LaborPress and originally appeared on:http://nysaflcio.org/nys_