Pictured above is a Zoom lobby session with NYS Senator Jabari Brisport, CWA 1109 and CWA 1180.
Yesterday we wrapped up the 2021 New York Legislative Session, so today we're able to take stock of everything and report that we won BIG this year.
CWA members throughout New York have given a huge amount of time and energy over the past few months to advocate for legislation to protect our jobs, make workers safer, and overall strengthen our state for working families - especially as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January, we:
Held 5 lobby days
Had 206 meetings with legislators
Made over 3,500 calls to CWA members and legislators
Sent nearly 11,000 texts to CWA members and legislators
Sent over 4,000 emails to legislators
And we did it all under unprecedented circumstances, with Virtual Lobby Days and remote meetings.
So, what did we win this year?
✓ Progress on Safe Staffing legislation for hospitals and nursing homes. After decades of work, we passed legislation to form hospital-by-hospital labor/management staffing committees that will create staffing plans - enforced by the DoH and ensuring that there are real consequences to understaffing.
✓ $1 million for our Broadband Data Mapping Bill to study broadband access throughout New York State so we can better deliver broadband to all.
✓ NY HERO Act to protect workers on the job. This groundbreaking bill will protect workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond by creating new health & safety standards, giving workers a stronger voice on the job, and holding employers accountable.
✓ Fiber Acceleration. This bill gives broadband service providers the right to access buildings to deliver fiber in order to deploy better broadband service to New Yorkers.
✓ $3.1 million for the CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies.
We had a few disappointments as well, and some bills still in progress.
Ending mandatory fees for SUNY Graduate Workers: We came very close to passing a plan to phase out fees over 4 years with the Assembly and Senate on board, 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! And in the meantime, CWA members at SUNY Buffalo ramped up the fight on their campus, and just this week they secured a commitment from the university to end fees!
Broadband Regulation: This legislation would treat broadband like the essential public utility that we know it is, and grant the Public Service Commision oversight authority of broadband and VoIP, reestablishing oversight of the communications industry, strengthening network resiliency, and protecting consumers. We were able to pass this bill out of the Assembly Corporations Committee, build up co-sponsors, and get media attention! We feel really good about the position this bill is in for passage next year.
Worker Retention in Call Centers: This legislation requires that current workforces of Government-contracted call centers are retained if the contract is awarded to a new contractor. We were able to build up the co-sponsorship of this legislation and get lots of publicity on why this legislation is important given the ongoing fight to protect our members’ jobs on Staten Island. We're ready to keep fighting for this issue next year.
Casinos: 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 casinos would give us more organizing opportunities. Unfortunately, the legislature couldn’t reach an agreement on a process for downstate casinos.
This has been one of the best, most successful legislative sessions for CWAers in recent memory - by far! And it would not have happened without the dual forces of our political action work: turning out in force to get good candidates elected to office, and many, many conversations and advocacy with those elected officials throughout the legislative session. It's never been more clear: ELECTIONS MATTER. After seeing our pro-worker bills blocked for years, the tides have shifted in Albany, and we’re able to make real change for New York's working families.