In New York, unions are a critical part of workers maximizing their wages and benefits on the job. However, with the number of hedge funds that purchase businesses, benefits like pension plans can be in flux. In a recent deal that was viewed as a surprise, a billionaire head of a fund agreed to concessions in an agreement with the U.S. government to protect a supermarket workers' pension plan.
Many New York workers may be interested in joining a union in order to strengthen their collective capacity to obtain higher wages, better working conditions and other rights on the job. There are many large national and international unions, but some workers even form small unions at their workplace. The important factor is that workers come together in their industry to organize together to challenge their employer's practices. There are a number of federal and state laws intended to protect workers' rights to organize with one another and pursue collective bargaining.
Emergency medical technicians have stressful and risky jobs, but they save a countless number of lives every year for relatively little financial reward. In New York City, entry-level fire department EMTs are paid approximately $16 an hour, which is only slightly above the city's hourly minimum wage, although a representative of Mayor Bill de Blasio believes that the actual figure is a bit higher. The unions that represent them have stated that this situation needs to be significantly improved.
A former Democratic councilman in Brooklyn will soon become the executive director of the Freelancers Union. He said that he intends to play a strong role in shaping the state's proposed gig worker law, S6699A, which is currently before the Senate Labor Committee. To gather information pertinent to the legislation, he said that he will fly to the West Coast and consult supporters of a recently passed gig worker law that seeks to stop employers from classifying employees as contract workers.
A group of staffers at New York's City Council is organizing to seek union recognition at work. There are around 400 people who work for the Council, and organizers are seeking to get over half of these workers to commit to joining the new union. The staffers are creating a new labor organization, unaffiliated to any larger union. So far, the group has been collecting around $25 per person from each staff member interested in joining, and they are planning a fundraiser at a bar close to the City Hall location where they work.
A law that is set to go into effect in New York on Jan.1 will require agricultural employers in the state to give their workers at least one day off each week and pay them overtime when they work more than 60 hours during a workweek. The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act will also make it easier for farm workers to organize and join unions.
Several New York labor unions are in conflict over a proposed bill that passed the state legislature. Amalgamated Transit Union 1181, representing school bus drivers, supports the Employee Protection Provision (EPP) bill, which they say would protect drivers' wages, seniority and benefits even when bus routes change hands. The bill reinstates rights that had previously been stripped from bus workers in 2011, specifically protecting compensation and seniority after a new bus company is contracted to take over a specific route.
Staff members employed at Hearst Magazines, a New York-based company that runs 24 media properties, have voted to join the Writers Guild of America East. The new union includes staff members across the two dozen media operations that include Town & Country, Esquire and Cosmopolitan. A statement from union organizers named compensation, transparency, diversity, and editorial standards as the top priorities for the unionized staff.
Teachers in New York will see a revised evaluation system after the state's Board of Regents approved a policy that gives local school districts as well as teachers' unions greater influence over the ratings educators receive for their work. It replaces a controversial approach that relied mainly on student growth scores generated by computers and based on a number of metrics, including standardized test scores. The board unanimously approved the change. Under the changed rules, around half of a teacher's evaluation will continue to be linked to standardized test performance by students. The other half of the evaluation will be based on classroom evaluations conducted locally.
Museum workers in New York may potentially go on strike following an authorization vote that came after months of contract negotiations. The New Museum Union said that members had agreed to strike after museum officials failed to agree to its demands for health care for all museum workers, greater safety protections and a minimum annual salary of $51,000 for all workers at the institution. Union leaders said that New Museum officials had rejected the demands and that negotiations had been going on for nearly a full year. A member of the bargaining committee said that museum officials were "hostile" to the majority of union proposals in the bargaining process.