On May Day Independent Democratic Conference stands with AFL-CIO, UFT, Building Trades, Uniformed Services and other public employee unions to protect collective bargaining
New York State Senate Labor Chairwoman Marisol Alcantara, joined by members of the Independent Democratic Conference and leaders of major labor unions, introduced legislation on May Day (International Workers’ Day) to combat union-busting tactics used in right-to-work states spreading nationally.
Right-to-work, a misnomer, strips unions of their collective bargaining power and these laws in place in 28 states are being considered on a federal level, which could lead to the erosion of the right to organize for better wages, benefits and workplace environment.
Alcantara’s legislation simplifies the process for an individual to join a public employee union and helps the union have the resources to provide services to that member.
“We cannot allow right-to-work to demolish the labor movement that was born in New York. We cherish the right to organize and this legislation ensures that everyone pays their dues to receive the protections and benefits that unions provide. Right-to-work means a right to lower wages and a lower quality of life and we will fight against that for our brothers and sisters in labor,” said Senator Alcantara.
“Unions are crucial to protecting the rights of workers in New York and across the country. As we continue to see more states enact right-to-work laws and discussion at the federal level of expanding them we must make it clear that New York will not allow itself to join that list. The IDC will continue to fight for laws that protect unions and the workers they fight for,” said IDC Leader Klein.
“The Independent Democratic Conference has always supported working men and women and recognizes the importance of protecting worker rights including the right to join a union. This legislation will streamline the ability of individuals to join a union in the public sector and comes at a critical time for working people who are increasingly under attack by those who want to diminish the rights of working men and women. We thank Senator Jeff Klein, Senate Labor Chair Marisol Alcantara and the IDC for sponsoring this important legislation. A strong labor movement raises the standard of living and quality of life for all working people,” said AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.
This is of pressing concern with new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. In a case brought before the Supreme Court, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, in which California teachers challenged that state’s law allowing unions to collect agency fees, the union prevailed in a 4-4 decision due to a vacancy on the court. That seat is now filled by Justice Gorsuch.
Other cases pending including Janus et al. v. AFSCME Council 31 in Illinois and Yohn et al. v. California Teachers Association, all share the aim of the court handing down an anti-union decision that failed to come with the Friedrichs case.
“Our unions bring dignity to the workplace, higher wages and benefits are vital to employees all over our state. The IDC will not allow the rights of our unions to erode in anyway, and I am proud to cosponsor this legislation,” said IDC Deputy Leader David Valesky.
“As a proud former labor leader, we must continue to fight for workers’ rights that are being threatened on a national level. Unions provide good-paying jobs, benefits and excellent workplaces for New Yorkers and we will not allow anyone to take that away. Our labor leaders go to the bargaining table to make sure that their employees have these rights and this legislation prevents any attempt to chip away at collective bargaining,” said Senator Diane Savino.
“Labor unions won victories in workplace safety and fair wages that protect and provide prosperity for countless New York families. I am especially proud, having been a member of DC37 for twenty-eight years, to stand alongside my colleagues in support of ensuring unions continue to play a vital role in building safe workplaces and thriving communities. This May Day, we reaffirm our commitment to the storied legacy of the labor movement, speak out in support of measures that will give unions the tools needed to protect workers, and acknowledge the leadership labor has shown in securing human dignity for workers here in New York and around the world,” said Senator Jesse Hamilton.
“The Right-to-Work movement is spreading nationwide like a cancer, and we must ensure we stop it as it represents a clear threat to organized labor and to basic rights to workers. In total, 28 states have implemented Right-to Work legislation and some form of it is being considered on a federal level. This is why it is crucial we combat head on this movement seeking to destroy the right to organize for better wages and better working conditions. Sadly, Right-to-Work has also depreciated consumer base as a result of people spending less because of lower wages and a lack of healthcare benefits. I applaud Senator Alcantara’s efforts to make it easier for employees to join unions if they choose to. Currently, with the growing presence of the Right-to-Work movement, we need this legislation,” said Senator Jose Peralta.
“The benefits of being a union member make the lives of working New Yorkers substantially better. Their ability to collectively bargain helps ensure that workers are paid fairly and are provided essential benefits. I will continue to fight to protect these important rights for unions in New York,” said Senator Tony Avella.
“Standing up for men and women who provide vital services to make our communities run is a big priority for the remainder of the session. As they are out doing difficult jobs they must know they have the protections and support that union resources provide their members. This is a matter of health and safety for thousands of people in New York and I look forward to being able to deliver those protections,” said Senator David Carlucci.