Here some updates on what’s going on politically at the city, state and federal level that impacts Local 802 members, our industry and the labor movement at large. As usual, contact me at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176 with any questions.
NEW YORK STATE
Film and Television Post-Production Tax Credit Bill: Local 802 has partnered with the Motion Picture Editors’ Guild to advocate for a bill designed to bring more film and television scoring work to New York. It is modeled on the very successful Empire State Film Production Tax Credit, under which production companies that do 75 percent of their filming in New York receive a tax credit equal to 15 percent of their production expenditures. Our bill offers the same incentive for companies to do their post-production work (editing and scoring) in New York. We’ve secured sponsors in the State Assembly and the State Senate and we’re hopeful that the bill will be introduced within the month. I’ll keep 802 members posted on these developments.
Workers’ Compensation Reform: Governor Spitzer and the State Legislature, along with the state AFL-CIO and New York’s business community, have agreed to a comprehensive workers’ compensation reform package. The reforms will increase benefits for injured workers, which are among the worst in the nation, and reduce employer costs, which are among the highest in the nation. After years of advocating workers’ compensation reform, finally passing this legislation is a real victory for the state AFL-CIO, for New York’s labor movement and for all working New Yorkers.
NEW YORK CITY
Threat to Arts Education in the public schools: New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has announced plans to restructure the way money is allocated to individual schools that could dramatically impact arts programs. Chancellor Klein’s proposal is to give principals more authority with the money allocated to their school. In the past a certain chunk of money was allocated specifically for math or for arts. Now, principals will get to decide how to spend that whole pot of money. Under the chancellor’s proposal, greater accountability for school performance will accompany this expansion of principals’ authority. Arts education advocates fear that in the pursuit of higher scores on standardized tests, principals will take money away from the arts, and put it towards math and reading. Local 802 is joining the coalition of advocates protesting these changes and asking that the reforms be modified to ensure that arts education is preserved.
The Employee Free Choice Act: On March 1, the U.S. House — by a vote of 241 to 185 — passed the most important labor law reform legislation in 70 years. The bill would give workers the freedom to choose to join a union and to bargain for a contract, free from employer intimidation. The Central Labor Council hosted a rally to thank the New York City congressional delegation for their support of the bill and to urge Congress to pass the bill. I attended the rally as Local 802’s representative. Although President Bush has indicated that he will veto this legislation if it comes to his desk, I’m confident that the Democrats in Congress and the AFL-CIO will keep fighting hard to make this bill into law.