Lawmakers pass union-backed bills by end of session

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source:  NYSUT Communications

The state Senate and Assembly passed numerous bills that NYSUT activists and legislative staffers pushed through since the state budget was finalized in early April.

“Many of these wins came down to the last days of session,” said President Andy Pallotta, “but our advocacy paid off again this year.” Although a few have been enacted, most of the bills await the governor’s approval.

“Our attention shifts now to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office to urge her to sign these bills into law,” Pallotta said.

Here are some of the dozens of NYSUT-backed bills that passed both houses.

Labor and pensions

Both houses passed a bill to reaffirm long-standing precedent to allow unions to introduce evidence showing both the employer and employee bargaining units’ intent to provide retirees with health insurance for life, regardless of the language in a collective bargaining agreement. The longstanding precedent was recently struck down in court.

With regard to the pandemic, one bill extends through 2023 the death benefit for public employees who died as a result of exposure to COVID–19. Another extends through 2023 the four-hour paid leave for public employees to obtain COVID–19 vaccine or booster shots.

LGBTQ pension buyback

This legislation will allow veterans with “qualifying conditions” — which include PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma — and “discharged LGBT veterans” to receive credit for their military service.

Health care

Two bills protect nurses from overtime exploitation. One provides home care nurses, who are often subjected to unscheduled mandatory overtime, with the same protections afforded to other types of nurses with regard to consecutive hours of work.

Another boosts enforcement by authorizing a civil penalty when a health care employer has required a nurse to work more than regularly scheduled work hours — unless there is an emergency declaration in effect. It does not prohibit a nurse from voluntarily working overtime.

Higher education

NYSUT fought hard to win adjunct professor loan forgiveness. This bill clarifies and expands the definition of full-time employment for purposes of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to include, among other professions, adjunct professors.

Another bill prohibits degree-granting institutions from withholding a student’s transcript because a student owes a debt to the school or institution.

Special schools

Lawmakers passed bills to establish a public campaign to address and combat the stigma, stereotyping and discrimination faced by students in special schools and adults with developmental disabilities, and to eliminate outdated and derogatory terms for people with disabilities.

Other bills would fix the funding rate method for special education providers and ensure that programs realize the full benefit of the 11 percent growth factor promised by the state.

Small cities debt limits

This is the first passage of a constitutional amendment that would bring small city school debt limits in line with other independent districts and provide additional fiscal flexibility and control.


A bill provides an additional two years (total of six) for libraries to complete construction projects so they can remain eligible for construction aid.


Among the acts that have already been signed are changes to the APPR and tenure laws as districts and educators continue to deal with ramifications of COVID–19. The changes provide a path to tenure for educators in their probationary period and suspend for a year the annual professional performance review process, while ensuring districts are not penalized for not undertaking APPR this year.

Gun violence

Early in June the governor enacted the gun violence legislative package, a number of bills lawmakers passed in the wake of recent tragedies in Buffalo and across the nation.

The bills will close the loopholes in the “Red Flag” law; raise the age limit to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; make it a crime to threaten mass harm; and eliminate grandfathering in large capacity magazines.

Mayoral control

This bill extends mayoral control of New York City public schools for two years, and includes more parent involvement in schools and educational policy.