EXTEND UMEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
Local 802 has been supporting the New York State Extended Unemployment Benefits Act of 2002, which would provide a state funded 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for the roughly 100,000 New York residents who will exhaust both their regular and federal extended benefits in the coming six months. The bill has passed New York State Assembly and has 13 Republican sponsors in the New York State Senate.
In the last recession, New Yorkers who exhausted their benefits had a difficult time finding work and replacing lost benefit income. A NYS Labor Department study showed that only 31 percent had found a job a year after losing their extended benefits. Fifty percent reported difficulty meeting health care costs, 39 percent had difficulty meeting food costs, 47 percent had difficulty meeting housing costs, and 26 percent reported that they were receiving public assistance.
The New York Unemployment Project, an advocacy group for unemployment benefits, and New York Jobs with Justice have been active supporters of this bill.
COBRA SUBSIDY BILL: AN UPDATE
The New York State Assembly has unanimously passed COBRA subsidy legislation which had the backing of all of the entertainment industry unions. The COBRA Subsidy Program would create a subsidy for the payment of 50 percent of the COBRA premium, for a period of up to one year, for entertainment industry workers who meet the eligibility requirements. The bill now awaits Senate action.
Local 802 would like to thank the sponsors of this legislation, Assemblymember Richard Brodsky and Senator Kemp Hannon, as well as Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Herman Farrell for their tireless help and assistance in moving this legislation forward.
RAISE THE WORKERS COMPENSATION BENEFIT
Legislation was introduced to raise the maximum weekly benefit of workers’ compensation and index it. New York’s weekly maximum benefit for workers’ compensation is the lowest benefit level of any state in the country. Currently, the maximum weekly benefit for workers injured on the job in New York State is $400 per week, a rate last raised ten years ago. New York’s average weekly wage as of September 2001 was $900. This means that our maximum benefit is only 44.4 percent of the state’s average weekly wage.
MISUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS
The New York State Senate and Assembly both passed legislation (A.11784-A Nolan/S.7822 Vellela) that would prohibit the use of state funds to encourage or discourage union organizing. Governor Pataki has stated that he will sign the bill into law. The New York State AFL-CIO was key in winning passage of this legislation
The bill would prohibit the use of state funds and facilities to assist, promote or deter union organizing. The State has a fiduciary interest in ensuring that taxpayer money is spent on its intended purposes, and the use of state funds or public property to encourage or discourage union organizing is a misuse of taxpayer funds.
FEMA EXTENDS GUIDELINES TO ASSIST MORE INDIVIDUALS
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has expanded its guidelines for the Mortgage and Rental Assistance Program, making it possible to help more people who face eviction or mortgage foreclosure because of economic hardships after Sept. 11. Under the expanded guidelines, residents who worked or lived anywhere in the borough of Manhattan and suffered financially because of the World Trade Center attacks may be eligible. People whose employer or business is not located in Manhattan, but had economically dependent business relationships with firms in Manhattan and consequently suffered financially, may be eligible. Finally, Manhattan residents who lost their jobs or significant income because their commute was disrupted as a result of 9/11 may also qualify for assistance.
FEMA has extended the disaster application deadline until Jan. 31, 2003. The application process is being streamlined and forms are being translated into other languages. To apply, call the FEMA toll-free registration line at 1-800-462-9029, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.