PAYCHECK DECEPTION FIGHT
Once again, so-called “paycheck protection” legislation has been introduced on the federal level, and the AFL-CIO has mobilized union activists in more than 30 states to fight back.
These types of proposals typically require a union to secure advance authorization from each member and represented nonmember before applying his or her dues or fees to political or legislative activity. Contributions by union member to political action and legislative activity are voluntary by law. Many independent surveys have shown that members strongly support their unions’ involvement in legislative and political action. But by imposing the burdensome process of collecting approvals one by one, such laws would seriously limit unions’ ability to speak for their members in the political and legislative process.
Paycheck deception bills were defeated in North Dakota, Mississippi and South Dakota in February, but similar legislation passed in Utah, where a court challenge is pending. Similar bills have emerged in Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia, and are also expected in Oklahoma and Florida. There is also a good possibility that ballot initiatives on the issue may surface in California, Oregon and Washington.
MAYOR VETOES SWEATSHOP BILL
Legislation that would have stopped the city from giving contracts to companies that use sweatshop labor was enacted by the New York City Council by an overwhelming margin – but then vetoed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. City Council Speaker Peter Vallone announced that the council would override the mayor’s veto on April 25. “The council’s bill would protect responsible companies from losing business to those that don’t play by the rules,” Vallone said. “Dozens of other cities across the country have passed similar legislation. It is time for New York City to take this vital step to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions.”
NYS AFL-CIO CREATES PROCUREMENT TASK FORCE
The New York State AFL-CIO has created a Procurement Task Force to address concerns that the labor movement has with irresponsible contractors. Among the issues that are being discussed are accountability when contracting out, the tremendous purchasing power of New York State and the employment opportunities that makes available, and participation in the process by the New York State Assembly and Senate, and the Attorney General’s office.
“The State of New York is a tremendous economic engine for those we represent,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Dennis Hughes, but he pointed out that it is getting harder and harder for companies with unionized work forces to benefit from business generated by state government. Today less than 40 percent of state contracts go to union shops.
DEMAND 0% RENT INCREASES!
The Met Council on Housing is demanding that the Rent Guidelines Board enact a one-year rent freeze to prevent the further loss of affordable housing over the next 12 months.
Each year the Rent Guidelines Board imposes higher increases than can be justified by its own studies. Last year the board imposed the highest increase in five years – despite the fact that owners’ profits had increased by 11.8 percent over the previous year. Currently more than 46 percent of all households living in rent-stabilized dwellings, or some 475,000 families, pay more than 30 percent of their income as rent – a level the federal government characterizes as a hardship – and more than one-third pay over 40 percent. Meanwhile, the average net profit for stabilized apartments rose from $244 to $295 per month last year. This means that each year over $3.6 billion is transferred from rent-stabilized tenants to the real estate industry. Met Council argues that a one-year rent freeze would halt the loss of tens of thousands of affordable units of housing.
The Rent Guidelines Board will meet on June 19 to set the rent increase guidelines for 2001-2002. The meeting will be held in the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomberg Center, on 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem. The board will take a preliminary vote on next year’s guidelines on May 3, at the Metrotech Center in downtown Brooklyn, and this will be followed by a day-long public hearing at Schomberg on June 13. If you’re interested in participating in the public hearing or any rallies please contact Met Council on Housing at (212) 693-0553.