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State lawmakers passed PEF’s Cost/Benefit Analysis bill

By SHERRY HALBROOK

With the same political party in control of both houses of the state Legislature and the governor’s office this year, it was an uncommonly productive legislative session that ended in June, and PEF is happy to report some important successes both in the state budget and in the general legislation that followed.

PEF has been trying for many years to get legislation enacted that would require state agencies to determine if using their own employees to do work would be less costly and provide more accountability instead of just contracting the work out to private consultants.

“I am very happy to tell you that this legislation, which we call Cost/Benefit Analysis, passed in both the Assembly and the Senate,” PEF President Wayne Spence said. “We hope the governor will also see the commonsense advantages of this bill and will sign it into law when it is sent to him later this year.”

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Both legislative houses also passed a bill extending by two additional years the maximum period of injunctive relief that PEF and others may receive when they charge the state or other public employer with violating the state Taylor Law.

It’s not always about getting bills passed, sometimes blocking a bill may be the best way to protect PEF members. That’s how PEF saw two bills that could have created serious problems for members who work for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.  The union worked tirelessly to stop them or remove their most concerning provisions.

The first of these two bills was called “HALT” and it could have physically endangered the safety of employees and inmates in state correctional facilities by further limiting discipline options for inmates who exhibit violent behavior.

The second bill went by the name “Less Is More” and would have made it very difficult to enforce the rules of parole. “It would have made it nearly impossible for our parole officers to do their jobs,” said Spence, who is a state parole officer.  “This proposal was bad for parole officers, bad for the people they supervise and bad for the communities we are sworn to protect.”

Neither of these problematic bills passed.

A bill that contained a section that would have thrown open the doors to privatizing the maintenance of state educational and recreational facilities was amended, as PEF requested, to remove that provision.

A section of yet another bill would have increased the share of retirement health care costs to be paid by state employees hired after April 1, 2019.  PEF opposed that provision and it was rejected by both the Assembly and the Senate.

For information on the fate of many more bills that PEF supported or opposed, read the next story.


Legislative recap of PEF wins in 2019 

The 2019 Legislative session ended only a few days ago (around 7 AM on Friday, June 21) and it was another productive year for PEF.  With Democrats in control of both houses of the Legislature, as well as the Executive Chamber, for the first time in a decade, there was a renewed sense that progress would be made on a variety of issues important to organized labor.

In addition to the budget bills from April (below) this is a list of some of the bills important to PEF and our brothers and sisters in organized labor that passed both houses.  With a few exceptions, all of the following bills need to be sent to the Governor, for signature or veto, before the end of the year.

PASSED BOTH HOUSES
Cost/Benefit Analysis—This bill remains one of PEF’s top legislative priorities.  It would require state agencies to produce a cost/benefit comparison before the letting of any consultant services contract valued at $750,000 or more.  For the first time, the bill was sponsored by Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Delmar), who represents thousands of PEF members in the capital district.

Stony Brook Nurses Retirement—This proposal allows PEF-represented work study nurses who were placed in an alternate retirement system to buy back their time and be placed into the state and local employees retirement system with other PEF members.

World Trade Center Disability Retirement—This bill would allow for Tier 3 and 4 PEF members to receive the same ¾ disability retirement as their uniformed colleagues (fire, police, sanitation) received who were involved in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations.

Increase in Retiree Income—The current limit in the amount of income a retiree can earn in a public service position would increase from $30,000 to $35,000.

Extension of Deadline for Application of Accidental Death Benefits—This bill would extend from two years to five years the deadline for filing an application for accidental death benefits for a member of the retirement system.

Additional Sexual Harassment Protections—Removes the “severe and pervasive” standard for sexual harassment cases, covers harassment based on all protected categories and ensures that the Human Rights Law covers all governmental employees for all forms of discrimination and harassment.

Extension of Injunctive Relief—This bill extends the expiration of injunctive relief for improper practice cases for two additional years, through June of 2021.

Insurance Coverage for Mental Health Treatment—This proposal require blanket health insurance policies to provide coverage for outpatient treatment by licensed mental health providers, including mental health counselors and licensed clinical social workers.

Protection from Prescription Drug Formulary Changes—This bill would prevent prescription drug formulary changes during a contract year.  The bill was amended to clarify that this bill shall not supersede a collective bargaining agreement or the rights of labor organizations to collectively bargain changes to formularies.

Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act—This long fought-for measure provides farm workers with a variety of rights, including collective bargaining, a weekly day of rest, overtime pay, workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits.

GENDA—Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression under the hate crimes statute.  (Signed into law on Jan. 25, 2019)

Prohibits Wage Differentials Based on Protected Classes—This bill would mandate equal pay for substantially similar work.  It would further prohibit differential pay based on any protected class, including age, race, sexual orientation, disability and marital status.

Change in Age Requirement for Civil Service for Those Who Served in the Military—This proposal would increase from six to seven the number of years of military service that can be deducted from one’s age to calculate maximum age requirements for certain civil service appointment or promotional examinations.

Protection from Excess Hospital Charges—This legislation adds hospital emergency services charges to the list of out-of-network charges that can be resolved through an independent dispute resolution process.

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act—This bill requires an 85% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2050, with interim goal of 40% reduction by 2030. It would also require 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% emissions free power by 2040.

***PEF also fought hard to stop legislation from passing that would have negatively impacted our members.  Specifically, we were successful in stopping the “HALT” bill that would have endangered our members working in DOCCS facilities, as well as other inmates, by limiting the discipline options available for the worst offenders.  In addition, we vigorously opposed the “Less is More” legislation that would have made it nearly impossible for our parole officers to do their jobs.  This proposal was bad for parole officers, the people they supervise and the communities they are sworn to protect.


April 2019 Budget Bills

Use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s)

Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (A.2008/S.1508)—Part G

This bill would allow the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to enter into agreements with private entities for the maintenance of state owned educational or recreational facilities.  These partnerships are yet another way for the State to skirt civil service issues and use private groups to do the work that should be done by State employees.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2008/S.1508 Part G

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2008 Part G

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1508 Part G

Ø  FINAL ACTION:  AMENDED TO REMOVE THE LANGUAGE ALLOWING P3s


Retiree Health Care Premium Contributions

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part A

The Governor proposes to increase the percentage of retiree health care costs for State employees hired on or after April 1, 2019.  Retirees’ contributions would be based on years of service. The sliding scale formula would cover 50 % of premiums for those with 10 years of service and increase up to 84% of premiums for those with 30 years of service.

The proposal takes effect on April 1, 2019 and only impacts new employees hired on or after that date.  This proposal creates another reason for potential employees to not enter State service at a time when the State is already facing a recruitment and retention problem with many agencies.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S. 1505 Part A

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part A

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part A

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


End Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA) Reimbursement

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part B

Effective January 1, 2020, the State would stop the automatic reimbursement of the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts (IRMAA) for Medicare premiums incurred on or after January 1, 2019 for higher income ($85,000 or more) State retirees. Higher-income retirees currently receive a greater subsidy for New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) than the amounts received by lower and middle-income retirees.

The roughly 7,600 impacted retirees stand to lose anywhere from $649 to $3,900 per year.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part B

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part B

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part B          

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Freeze on Medicare Part B Reimbursement

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part C

This bill would amend section 167-a of the Civil Service Law to provide that, effective April 1, 2019, State reimbursement to eligible retirees and their dependents for the Medicare Part B standard premium shall not exceed $135.50 per month.  While this represents an increase for some, the language provides that any future increases would be subject to negotiations in the state budget, meaning they are far less likely to happen.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part C

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part C

Ø  Senate Action:  Rejected S.1505 Part C

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Geriatric Parole

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part II, Subpart P

This proposal would allow for the parole of an inmate age 55 or older who is no longer able to provide self-care within a correctional facility due to a chronic or serious condition, disease, syndrome, or infirmity.  An inmate must have served at least half of his/her sentence in order to be eligible for this special consideration.

This proposal, while compassionate as a concept, would in reality simply allow convicted criminals to be released back into the community well ahead of their scheduled release dates. Financial considerations, such as the lack of Medicaid funding for inmates, should not be the determining factor when parole is considered.  Furthermore, this proposal will only increase the caseload of our already overburdened Parole Officers.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part II, Subpart P

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part II      

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part II, Subpart P

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED 


 Segregated Confinement Reform

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part JJ

This proposal amends the Correction Law to allow New York State to continue to advance special housing unit (SHU) reform in its correctional facilities.  As written, the bill would provide additional infrastructure investments to give incarcerated individuals the opportunity to significantly reduce their time in SHU.  Additionally, new programs would be created to address underlying behavior in individuals while altering their day-to-day living conditions.

 While the sponsor memo asserts that this proposal was modeled after a successful program utilized in Colorado, key components of that program do not appear to have made it into this one.  Specifically, in Colorado, formerly violent special housing incarcerated individuals are allowed out of their cells, in restraints, to participate in programs.  Without the restraint component, PEF is concerned for the safety of our many members working in DOCCS facilities.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part JJ

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part JJ

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part JJ (working on a plan to limit solitary confinement outside of the budget)                       

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Closure of up to Three State Prisons within 90 Days

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part TT

This proposal would allow the Governor to close up to three Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) facilities provided that 90 days notice is given.  Current law requires 12 months notice so that appropriate planning for inmates, staff and host communities can take place.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part TT

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A. 2005 Part TT               

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part TT

Ø  FINAL ACTION: AMENDED TO ALLOW THE CLOSURES WITH 90 DAYS NOTICE TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS


Non-Competitive and Labor Class to Compete in Promotional Examinations

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part MM

 This proposal would circumvent the merit and fitness system to allow someone that did not receive a competitive class appointment to be allowed to be promoted into the competitive class.  PEF has opposed similar proposals in the past.

Ø  PEF Request:  Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part MM

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part MM      

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part MM

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Authorizes Time-Limited Job Try-Outs for Public Assistance Recipients

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (A.2006/S.1506)—Part N

This section would allow public assistance recipients to work for up to 90 days in anticipation of gaining employment where a vacancy is expected.  This program is to include public sector entities.  While this program is well intentioned, for the state, it could be used to circumvent the merit and fitness qualifications of Civil Service exams.

Ø  PEF Request: Amend A.2006/S.1506 Part N to ensure that any employment in state service does not happen without the proper Civil Service examination

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A/2006 Part N

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1506 Part N

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Limiting of Peace Officer Status

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505) Part UU

This bill would repeal portions of the Criminal Procedure Law and replace them with language that would severely limit when those state and local government employees who risk their lives for the safety of others are actually considered peace officers.

This bill endangers both the officers and the communities they serve.  Whether technically on duty or not, peace officers are duty bound to take legal action whenever they witness a crime.  They routinely face dangerous situations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Treating them like any other shift worker is not appropriate.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part UU

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part UU

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part UU

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Voluntary Jail-based Restoration to Competency Programs

Health and Mental Hygiene—(A.2007/S.1507) Part X

This proposal would amend Section 730.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) to authorize the establishment of jail-based restoration to competency programs, for felony defendants pending judicial hearings, within locally-operated jails, subject to the facility’s consent as a pilot program, in up to two counties.

The proposal calls for the creation of a pilot program of residential mental health units within local jails.  Correctional facilities are not the appropriate locations to rehabilitate individuals requiring mental health services.  State mental health facilities or other well-equipped hospitals or centers are where these individuals should be restored to competency.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2007/S.1507 Part X

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2007 Part X

Ø  Senate Action: Accepted S.1507 Part X

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Proposed Public Employee CBA subject to FOIL

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)— Part BB

This bill would comprehensively reform the State’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). It would include making the proposed terms of a collective bargaining agreement for public employees available to the public when it is sent to union members for ratification. It would also require such proposed agreement to be placed on the website of the Office of Employee Relations for state employee unions.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2005/S.1505 Part BB

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part BB       

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part BB

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


 Elimination of the SUNY Hospital Subsidy

 Last year’s approved budget provided a subsidy of $92 Million for SUNY’s three hospitals (Downstate, Stony Brook and Upstate), in addition to $78.6 Million in capital funding.  This year’s Executive Budget proposal does not include any subsidy for the hospitals, potentially causing a funding shortage.

Ø  PEF Request: Restore the $78.6 Million subsidy

Ø  Assembly Action: Proposed eliminating $44 million in debt      

Ø  Senate Action: Took No action

Ø  FINAL ACTION: SUNY did not request funding


 Protection of Private Information of Public Employees

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)— Part E 

This bill codifies Executive Order #183 to prohibit the dissemination of the personal home address, personal home phone number, personal cellular phone number or personal email address of any state or local government employee except under limited circumstances when required by a court.

Ø  PEF Request:  Accept A.2005/S.1505 Part E

Ø  Assembly Action:  Accepted A.2005 Part E

Ø  Senate Action:  Accepted S.1505 Part E

Ø  FINAL ACTION: ACCEPTED  


Continued Reliance on Private Entities for Public Services

This budget continues the disturbing trend of using private for- and not-for-profit entities to do the work which was once done by state employees.  Whether it is OITS, OMH, OPWDD, DOT or one of the many other state agencies, we believe that PEF members are best suited to deliver the public services that the state provides. Continuing to divert services and resources to private entities at the expense of individuals, dependent upon state services, is detrimental to clients, state workers and taxpayers.

Ø  PEF Request: Increase the financial support for state agencies so that they can once again provide cost effective, high quality services themselves

Ø  Assembly Action: Maintained staffing at levels proposed by Governor

Ø  Senate Action: Maintained staffing at levels proposed by Governor

Ø  FINAL ACTION: MAINTAINED STAFFING AT LEVELS PROPOSED BY GOVERNOR 


Design-Build Expansion and Extension

Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (A.2008/S.1508)—Part D 

This bill would expand the provisions of current law to enable the Dormitory Authority, the Urban Development Corporation, the Office of General Services, the Department of Health, the Olympic Regional Development Authority and the SUNY Construction Fund to award a contract to a single entity for both the design and construction (design-build) aspects of a project. The types of capital projects for which design-build contracts can be used would be amended to also included buildings and appurtenant structures.  This bill would also make design-build permanent.

Design-build allows for privatization of public work that has been traditionally performed by state employees. Important capital projects should be performed by state workers since they focus on the safety and well being of our taxpayers instead of corporate profits.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2008./S.1508 Part D

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2008 Part D

Ø  Senate Action: Amended S.1508 Part D for a two year extension of the existing program with no expansion in scope of projects allowed or eligible agencies to use design build

Ø  FINAL ACTION: AMENDED TO ALLOW A TWO YEAR EXTENSION WITH NO ADDITIONAL CHANGES


Makes Permanent the Design/Construct Authority for the Dormitory Authority

Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (A.2008/S.1508)—Part B

This bill would allow the Dormitory Authority to enter into design/construct agreements with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) permanently.  The current law allowing this is set to expire on April 1, 2019.

Ø  PEF Request: Reject A.2008/S.1508 Part B and allow it to expire

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2008 Part B

Ø  Senate Action: Amended S.1508 Part B for a two year extension of the program

Ø  FINAL ACTION: AMENDED TO ALLOW FOR A TWO YEAR EXTENSION OF THE EXISTING PROGRAM


$2 Million OITS Certification Training

State Operations—A.2000/S.1500 p. 438

This funding allows for up to $2 Million to be spent for training of Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) employees towards achieving specific certifications that are not currently held by employees in sufficient quantity to meet the state’s needs.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2000/S.1500 p.438

Ø  Assembly Action: Accepted A.2000 p.453

Ø  Senate Action: Accepted S.1500 p.472

Ø  FINAL ACTION: ACCEPTED


Roswell Park Cancer Institute Subsidy of $102.6 Million

Aid to Localities (A.2003/S.1503) p. 488 & Capital Projects (A.2004/S.1504) p. 302

This subsidy remains at the same amount as last year.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2003/S.1503 p.488 & A.2004/S.1504 p.302

Ø  Assembly Action: Accepted A.2003 p.659 & A.2004 p.364        

Ø  Senate Action: Accepted S.1503 p.674 & S. 1504 p.364

Ø  FINAL ACTION: ACCEPTED


Increases Penalty for Assault on Motor Vehicle Inspectors

Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (A.2008/S.1508)—Part II

This proposal would increase the penalty for assault on various local and state government employees, including PEF-represented Motor Vehicle Inspectors.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2008/S.1508 Part II

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2008 Part II

Ø  Senate Action: Accepted S. 1508 Part II and expanded to include additional workers

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Salary Protection for Provisional and Temporary Employees Upon Reclassification or Reallocation

Public Protection and General Government (A.2005/S.1505)—Part NN

This proposal would provide salary protection for PEF members in non-permanent titles and permanent employees who transfer to other positions.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2005/S.1505 Part NN

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2005 Part NN

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1505 Part NN

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Ensure Equal Pay

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (A.2006/S.1506)—Part Q

This section of the budget would prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history and also expand equal pay provisions to cover all protected classes.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2006/S.1506 Part Q

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2006 Part Q

Ø  Senate Action:  Amended S.1506 Part Q

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Increase Protections Against Harassment in the Workplace

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (A.2006/S.1506)—Part V

This proposal would expand recently passed workplace harassment to clarify that harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive.  In addition, it would require all employers to display a sexual harassment prevention poster.

Ø  PEF Request: Accept A. 2006/S.1506 Part V

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2006 Part V          

Ø  Senate Action: Rejected S.1506 Part V (want to pass stand alone legislation outside of the budget) 

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Protect Veterans from Financial Exploitation

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (A.2006/S.1506)—Part W

This portion of the budget helps to prevent “pension poaching” schemes that impact elderly and disabled veterans.  Often, these veterans fall victim to unscrupulous people who charge for services that the veterans are entitled to free of charge and/or charge an unreasonable fee and may seek a certain portion of the pension benefit.

 Ø  PEF Request: Accept A.2006/S.1506 Part W

Ø  Assembly Action: Rejected A.2006 Part W

Ø  Senate Action: Amended to remove definition of “veteran”

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


Safe Staffing Study

The Governor has indicated that he will direct the Department of Health to examine how staffing enhancements can improve patient safety.

Ø  PEF Request: Pass any initiative that will lead to the establishment of safe staffing levels in our hospitals and nursing homes

Ø  Assembly Action: No action

Ø  Senate Action: No action

Ø  FINAL ACTION: INCLUDED A REQUIREMENT THAT THE STUDY BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BE CONCLUDED BY DEC. 31, 2019 AND INCLUDE INPUT FROM LABOR ORGANIZATIONS


New Items Added by the Legislature at PEF’s Request:

Cost/Benefit Analysis

Ø  PEF Request:  Include in the budget

Ø  Assembly Action: Included  as A.2005-B Part CCC

Ø  Senate Action: Included  as S.1505-B Part XX

Ø  FINAL ACTION: REJECTED


New Items in the Final Budget:

Protection from pre-Janus Agency Fee Claims

Education, Labor and Family Assistance (A.2006-C/S.1506-C)—Part DD

This section will protect employee organizations against claims for retroactive agency shop fees filed after June 27, 2018.  It will provide a complete defense and explicitly prohibit any current or former employee from having standing to pursue such a claim.

Ø  FINAL ACTION: ACCEPTED

Table of Contents – July-August 2019

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