As a public school teacher and union member, labor issues are personal to me. But labor issues are so much bigger than an individual — they shape the structure of our society. More than a century’s worth of economic data makes it clear: during periods of high union density and strong labor power, national wealth is more equitably shared. During periods of low union density and labor retrenchment, nearly all economic gains are captured by the top ten percent. Particularly since the 1970s, sharp declines in union density have been accompanied by an explosion of income and wealth inequality.
Strong unions mean worker power, and power gets the goods.
The labor movement is a foundational pillar in the movement for economic, racial, and social justice. Major change occurs when workers take action collectively and disrupt business as usual. The labor movement won the eight hour work day, made the New Deal possible, and supported the Civil Rights movement. I believe that the labor movement can change our world again.
Labor power has suffered in New York just as it has throughout the rest of the country, and it’s produced some of the starkest inequality in America. To combat it and to transform our world, I will fight to protect and expand the power of unions, make it easier for workers to organize their workplaces, extend labor protections to all workers regardless of union status, and impose obligations on employers to provide appropriate compensation, benefits, and work environments for all their workers.
As a state senator, I will fight for:
- Require that all projects financed through public funds are subject to the prevailing wage and related contract requirements (S1947).
- Increase fines issued to companies that illegally endanger worker welfare (S3341).
- Set minimum staffing levels at medical facilities (S1032).
- Strengthen the rights of workers injured on the job (S5302).
- Pass a universal just cause law to protect workers from arbitrary firing.
- Repass and pressure Governor Cuomo to sign the SWEAT Act (S2844B) to protect thousands of workers from wage theft.
- Amend the Taylor Law to allow public sector employees to strike.
- Replicate New York City’s Fair Chance Act throughout New York State, thereby making it illegal for employers to ask about the criminal record of applicants before making a job offer.
- Create a true statewide $15 minimum wage, with no exceptions based on geography or industry, and tying that wage to a cost-of-living metric, such as the Consumer Price Index.
- Cease state subsidies and contracts to companies that do not offer card check neutrality.
- Extend labor rights to workers excluded from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), such as domestic workers and farm workers.
- Adopt California’s model of ABC legislation, which determines if a worker is an independent contractor or employee, in New York State.
- Improve the State’s paid family leave law to cover more workers and increase the amount paid to workers to 80% of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage.
- Require employers to provide all full-time employees with at least three weeks paid vacation leave and two weeks of paid sick leave.
- Prohibit non-disclosure agreements in individual worker contracts in cases of discrimination, retaliation, or sexual harassment.
- Ban the inclusion of arbitration agreements in employee contracts.
- Amend the State Economic Development Law to support worker-owned businesses and cooperatives, and require an assessment of how a project will affect union density.
- Protect workers currently in the fossil fuel industry by providing job transition programs and direct placement into unionized, “green” jobs, like reconstructing obsolete water pipelines, rebuilding and expanding public transit, maintaining and modifying existing buildings, etc.
- End all givebacks and cuts to state employees’ pay and benefits and the creation of new retirement tiers in public pension systems and/or tiered health benefits that offer less to newer public workers.
- Maintain and resist amendments to the Triborough Amendment.
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