SUFFOLK COUNTY ADOPTS LIVING WAGE
The Suffolk County Legislature made history this summer when it voted to pass a bipartisan “Living Wage” law for working families. Suffolk became the first county in New York State to enact such a law, and is the first county in the nation where Republicans control the legislature to have passed such a bill.
Resolution 441-01 requires companies which receive county tax dollars to pay employees a minimum of $9 an hour plus medical benefits, or $10.25 an hour without benefits. The bill originally passed in early June passed by a landslide vote of 17 to 1, but was vetoed by County Executive Robert Gaffney. The Legislature subsequently overrode his veto. The Working Families Party was a key player in both the lobbying effort to pass the bill and the successful campaign for the override.
“This is a victory for the working men and women of Suffolk County,” said Jack Caffey, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor. “The Living Wage bill is morally right and economically sound. I am proud of our legislature and our county for becoming the first in New York to pass a bipartisan Living Wage law.”
COBRA BILL IS BUILDING SUPPORT
The COBRA subsidy bill (A7660/S3043) has been forging ahead. As this issue went to press it was in the State Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee and was expected to move to a vote later in August.
The bill, supported by the New York Entertainment Industry Health Insurance Coalition, would subsidize up to 50 percent of the individual premium for up to one year to help workers in our industry maintain health insurance benefits (see July/August Allegro for more details). Please contact 802’s Political & Legislative Department at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176, to learn how you can help lobby for this legislation.
OPPOSITION IS SLOWING FAST TRACK
President Bush and his Congressional allies have been furiously lobbying to win passage of “Fast Track” legislation, which would allow the administration to negotiate international trade agreements and limit Congress to voting it up or down, with no possible amendments and limited debate. But a campaign by labor and its allies to block fast track forced Republicans to concede that they did not have enough votes to pass the measure in the House, before Congress recessed in August.
New York Jobs with Justice has been working with unions and community organizations to press key members of Congress to take a stand for global justice and vote no on Fast Track. NYJwJ has also created an educational workshop on the debate around Fast Track and broader issues about globalization and “free” trade. If you are interested in such a discussion, contact 802’s Political & Legislative Department.
ROCKLAND, NASSAU SET RENT INCREASES
The Rockland County Rent Guidelines Board voted on June 19 to adopt modest rent adjustments for rent-stabilized leases that are renewed in the year beginning Oct. 1. For buildings with 60 or fewer apartments, the guidelines are 1.75 percent for one-year and 2.5 percent for two-year lease renewals. For buildings with 61 or more units, the numbers are 1 percent and 2.25 percent. On June 20, Nassau County set adjustments much closer to the ones set in New York City. Rents will rise by 3 percent and 5 percent for one- and two-year leases, respectively.
SENIOR TO LOSE VOTING MACHINES
The Board of Elections has decided to remove voting machines from senior housing developments and nursing homes across New York City after deeming it illegal to have additional voting booths beyond those prescribed for each Election District. Assemblymember Michael N. Gianaris announced that he intends to introduce legislation in the State Assembly that would allow voting machines to remain in these sites. City Council Speaker Peter Vallone promised to seek legal action if Albany fails to fix the problem. “As this election approaches, we must protect every citizen’s right to vote,” he said. “The last thing we would want to do is remove voting booths and make it harder for citizens to participate in our democracy. The constitutional right to vote is too sacred to be sacrificed for a mere technicality.”