CWA 1109

End of 2021 Legislative Session Wrap up

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Wow, after a whirlwind legislative session, as of June 10th the session is over and it's time to take a victory lap! CWA won big: safe staffing, the broadband mapping bill, NY HERO, the fiber access bill, and raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy are among the biggest highlights of this year. Victory flyer attached!

Despite all of the challenges - a global pandemic, everything being moved online, overlapping important elections in Georgia and NYC, and so much more - we have had one of the best sessions we have ever had thanks to YOU. Even though we couldn’t flood the halls of Albany with a sea of red shirts, we made our voices heard loud and clear and brought home BIG wins for members. It’s a true testament to the political power that you’ve built for our union over the years - and especially the importance of winning supermajorities in both the Assembly and the Senate.

With the Senate and the Assembly supermajorities and a weakened Governor, New York State has been able to pass historic legislation that will make meaningful changes in the lives of working people across the State. If you are interested in an overall analysis of some of the major legislative wins and takeaways, please see the end of this email for a roundup!

How did we do on our goals for this session?

When we started this session, we had 5 goals. We achieved all of these goals, with flying colors!

  1. Move our bills forward → we won 8 campaigns and advanced 2! See below for our final tally.

  2. Build relationships with our elected officials - especially new members → we met with almost all new members of the legislature!

  3. Educate legislators about our issues → we met with over 142 legislators! 

  4. Engage new activists in our lobbying work → we had new activists join our lobby days! 

  5. Train more activists and trainers → we trained 68 activists and 4 new trainers!

We also supported numerous other non-CWA led campaigns - many of which were advanced and even won!

CWA members threw down hard - we had: 

  • 3 member trainings 

  • 68 members trained on best practices for effective lobbying 

  • 1 train-the-trainer 

  • 4 new legislative trainers 

  • 5 lobby days

  • 206 meetings 

  • 162 total members lobbying

  • Virtual rallies and press conferences

  • Legislative briefings and roundtables

  • Phonebanks (over 3,500 calls)

  • Textbanks (nearly 11,000 texts) 

  • Email drives (over 4,000 emails sent)

With all that work, it’s no surprise that we won BIG! 

So, what did we win?

Budget Fights: 

  1. Revenue.  PASSED! The final budget raised $4.3 billion in new revenue by taxing millionaires and ultra-millionaires and corporations. The revenue raised through these modest tax increases will help rebuild our schools, hospitals and universities, bolster our public services, support excluded workers and ensure economic stability, desperately needed measures in the wake of the pandemic.

  2. Broadband Mapping Bill. PASSED! Our broadband mapping bill or the “Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act” was included in the budget.  This is a critical first step to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to broadband. We passed the bill in the Senate and Assembly in 2020, then the Governor declined to sign it (pocket veto) with a promise to include it in the budget (which he failed to do) and after much wrestling behind the scenes, we finally got it in - with $1 Million in funding attached. We know that having more accurate data on broadband access will help us close the digital divide-- and potentially create more work for CWA members to hook up unserved or underserved New Yorkers.

  3. In-State Offshore Wind Turbine Manufacturing. PASSED! We passed budget language that would incentivize in-state manufacturing of wind turbines as part of New York’s massive program to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind production. This is an important first step in helping New York develop green, manufacturing capacity and becoming a leader in the green economy!

  4. Funding for new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. PASSED!  We won $3.1 Million in funding the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

  5. Ensure MTA telecom work is done by CWA. WON. The Executive Budget proposal included language that would have allowed the MTA to do our work, moving telephone infrastructure or conduit in their transit systems with their own employees or to contract it out. We fought for and won the removal of this provision which would mean the loss of CWA work and good union jobs. 

  6. GSEU Fee Waiver. Died. We came incredibly close to passing a plan to phase out fees over 4 years with the Assembly and Senate on board and including the measure in their one-house budgets- and, we even got support from Malatras, the SUNY Chancellor. But in the end, we couldn’t get it past the finish line. The fight is not over - and we’ll come back stronger next time around!

  7. Casinos. Died. CWA represents over 80 workers at the MGM casino in Yonkers. Negotiations around expanding downstate casinos have been ongoing for years and this year, we joined this fight! Expanding the casino would give us more organizing opportunities. Unfortunately, the legislature couldn’t reach an agreement on a process for downstate casinos. 

Post-Budget Legislative Wins

  1. Safe Staffing (Nursing homes and hospitals) PASSED! We passed legislation that requires nursing homes to put patient care first by including a staffing ratio for direct patient care. As for hospitals, we (CWA, 1199 and NYSNA) won legislation that takes a significant step forward in ensuring adequate staffing in our hospitals.  The proposal would implement hospital-by-hospital staffing committees, made up of equal parts labor and management, that create staffing plans for each unit and shift. The centerpiece of this bill is real enforcement and transparency provisions that ensure hospitals follow the plan and provide real consequences to understaffing. The bill also codifies some ratios that are currently in regulations - but not being followed.

  2. NY Hero. PASSED! This is a bill that we have been fighting tooth and nail for since last spring. For over a year, we’ve joined other labor and community groups to demand stronger safety standards and protections for workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.  The NY HERO Act will strengthen worker protections during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond by creating new health & safety standards during airborne infectious disease outbreaks, giving workers a stronger voice on the job, and holding employers accountable for dangerous workplaces.  

  3. Fiber Acceleration. PASSED! This legislation gives internet service providers the right to access any building where there is or was telephone service for the purpose of upgrading the copper to fiber in order to deploy broadband service to New Yorkers. Far too many consumers are denied a competitive choice of broadband providers because the owner of the building in which they live or a nearby building/property owner blocks broadband providers from gaining access to deliver broadband services. In New York City alone, there are over 160,000 properties that Verizon can't access. This exacerbates the digital divide, results in higher prices and lower quality service, prevents competitive choice, and leaves too many New Yorkers without access to the most advanced broadband services.

  4. Broadband Regulation. Advanced. We were able to pass this bill out of the Assembly Corporations Committee, build up co-sponsors, and get numerous press hits! We feel really good about the position this bill is in for passage next year.  This legislation explicitly grants the Public Service Commision oversight authority of broadband and VoIP to ensure quality, resiliency and public safety. This legislation reestablishes oversight of the communications industry, strengthens network resiliency, and protects consumers. This legislative approach is a way for states to fill the void of regulation left by the federal government and push Congress and the FCC to raise the floor on ISP accountability.

  5. Worker Retention in Call Centers. Advanced. We were able to build up the co-sponsorship of this legislation and get numerous press hits on why this legislation is important given the ongoing fight to protect our members’ jobs on Staten Island.  This legislation requires that incumbent workforces of Government-contracted call centers are retained if the contract is re-bid and awarded to a new contractor. Such worker retention policies are a best practice in service contracting. Nondisplacement requirements for government service contractors ensure continuity of a well-trained and experienced workforce, which can help ensure high service quality. It also prevents disruption to vulnerable frontline workers.

Found In: