COUNCIL OVERRIDES GIULIANI VETO OF SWEATSHOP BILL
In a clear victory for the labor movement, the New York City Council voted on April 25 to override the mayor’s veto of anti-sweatshop legislation advocated by UNITE! The legislation seeks to level the playing field in the garment industry by requiring full disclosure of who benefits from the public funds spent to purchase the uniforms and apparel worn by New York City police, firefighters, sanitation workers, EMS workers and other uniformed services workers.
On the day of the Council override vote, several unions joined with the NYC Central Labor Council and UNITE! in a City Hall rally. Hundreds of union members attended to show their support for the legislation.
MOURN FOR THE DEAD, FIGHT FOR THE LIVING
April 28 was Workers Memorial Day in New York City, under a proclamation issued by City Council Speaker Peter Vallone. He announced that a plaque will be installed in Union Square Park, reading: “Dedicated to those tens of thousands of working men and women who lost their lives due to workplace injury or illness. We mourn their passing, honor their memory, and commit ourselves to the struggle to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all.”
As unions mobilized nationwide, State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes said that worker education is the best way to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. “That is why the New York State AFL-CIO has requested there be an increase in funding for the Occupational Safety and Health clinic network, union health clinics, and an adequate funding stream for the Occupational Safety and Health Educational Training programs. The clinics need funding to expand their mission of treating occupational disease, and to help workers suffering from workplace injuries.”
The labor movement created Workers Memorial Day more than a decade ago, as a way of raising public awareness about the grave safety and health problems workers still confront in the workplace. This year’s observances commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. There is currently a movement within the Trade Union Council, a multinational coalition of trade unions, to have Workers Memorial Day recognized worldwide.
NEW YORK NEEDS ELECTION REFORM
The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) has created the Citywide Coalition for Voter Participation to press for better-run city elections. They point out that Florida was not the only state where voting was hampered by an antiquated and inefficient voting process. Last Election Day, many New Yorkers had to deal with broken voting machines, chaotic polling sites with long lines, poorly-trained poll workers, inadequate foreign-language help, jammed phone lines at the Board of Elections and names that were improperly missing from the rolls.
The Citywide Coalition for Voter Participation is advocating four major steps for better-run elections: recruit more poll workers and give them better training; use up-to-date technology to aid voters; maintain our aging voting machines and make real progress in replacing them; and establish better management of city elections.
Local 802 is participating in this coalition. If you would like to take part in these efforts, or to report a problem you had with the Board of Elections last year, please contact me at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.
CAMPAIGN FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE CONTINUES
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a longtime advocate of affordable healthcare, is sponsoring a bill that advances that goal, the Medicare Extension of Drugs to Seniors Act. The bill would establish an 80:20 outpatient prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D, to be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration.
This legislation would cap prescription drug spending for beneficiaries at $2,288 and would have catastrophic coverage beginning at $2,000 out-of-pocket. To eliminate price discrimination, the bill would require manufacturers to charge Medicare and its beneficiaries a price equal to the lower of either the lowest price paid for the drug by other federal government agencies or the manufacturer’s best price for the drug. Nadler also included a program which would provide payments to employers who provide drug coverage equal to or better than the Medicare coverage, as an incentive to maintain such coverage.