A top labor official in New York is cheering the end of the legislative session and some key victories for unions in the state following six months in which a minimum wage increase was approved and worker protections were backed in the Legislature.
But the business organizations are taking a divergent view, pointing to what didn't get done — including relieving employers from an unemployment insurance tax surcharge.
The differing viewpoints underscore the Democratic control of the state Legislature, which has strong allies in labor.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento in a statement cheered the planned increase in the state's minimum wage to $17 in the coming years and then linking future raises to the rate of inflation. He also pointed to a range of worker protections included by state lawmakers, including the requirement that an independent hearing officer be appointed in disciplinary actions brought against a public worker by a government employer.
“Collectively, these important pieces of legislation ensure New York State leads the way when it comes to protecting workers’ rights,” Cilento said.
It's a different story for the Business Council of New York State.
The group had urged state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul to relieve employers of paying down $8 billion in unemployment insurance debt that ballooned during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business organizations had also urged lawmakers to scale back a COVID-era sick leave program and changes to the state's wage theft law.
An expansion of the state's wrongful death law was approved this month, a revision of a measure that Hochul vetoed earlier this year amid an outcry from lawsuit reform advocates, local governments and medical organizations that it would add too costly a burden on insurance premiums.
Businesses could claim victories on what didn't get done: New requirements for recycling as well as changes to the workers' compensation program.
“In the first legislative session after the 2022 elections, in which jobs, the economy, and out-migration of New Yorkers were key issues, the Senate and Assembly failed to address these concerns,” said Heather Mulligan, the president and CEO of The Business Council. “At a time when New York State has lost over 400,000 residents in the last several years, the legislature continued to make doing business in New York harder. Instead of fixing the most basic needs of businesses, New York again failed.”