December 2013/January 2014 - Labor Issues
December 17, 2013

Union pushes for laws that ensure equity, safety

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT United

As the new legislative session approaches, NYSUT continues to support state laws that would improve the lives of women, students and the often overlooked members of society, including farm workers, immigrants and minimum wage employees.

Workplace health and safety: NYSUT continues to advocate for workplaces that are free of bullying and harassment. A bill that would require the development and implementation of plans to prevent workplace violence in public schools, and would provide employees with training on how to protect themselves, is before the Assembly and Senate labor committees. Another NYSUT-backed bill pending in committes would establish the right of employees subjected to an abusive work environment to file a lawsuit.

Safe patient handling: NYSUT will continue to advocate for passage of a bill that would require hospitals to install equipment to help nurses safely lift patients. A bill addressing this critical need passed the Assembly; its companion bill is before the Senate Finance Committee.

The Women's Equality Act: A 10-point initiative put forth by Gov. Cuomo in his State of the State address last year failed to become law when the section of the bill that would have strengthened the state's abortion rights language did not get enough legislative support. The proposal covered a number of topics of concern to NYSUT, such as pay equity, sexual harassment, domestic violence and human trafficking. NYSUT supports a reintroduction of the initiative in the upcoming session, and lawmakers have not ruled that out.

Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act: Would provide farm workers with basic rights and fair working conditions, including overtime pay, disability insurance, a day of rest each week and the right to bargain collectively. The bill passed the Assembly last session and is in the Senate Labor Committee.

New York State Dream Act: This bill would allow college students who were brought to the United States as undocumented immigrants during childhood to obtain state financial aid, such as the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). It would establish the New York Dream Fund Commission, which would serve as a repository for private donations to assist undocumented immigrant students. The bill passed the Assembly last session.