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Testimony regarding the New York City Essential Workers' Bill of Rights


The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), representing more than 190,000 working men and women in the City of New York would like thank Chair I. Daneek Miller and all members of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor for holding a hearing on a legislative package of introductions and resolutions drafted by members of the City Council and collectively known as the “NYC Essential Workers Bill of Rights.” We would like to provide our input on the four introductions and two resolutions that constitute this important legislative package to better support and protect our city’s essential workers during the current public health and economic crises caused by the novel coronavirus.

Int 1918-2020 referred to as premium or hazard pay for essential hourly wage earners. Understanding the courageous and laudable service our essential hourly wage earners have and continue to provide our city and as a part of our city and state’s labor movement, the UFT supports the idea that essential hourly wage earners receive premium or hazard pay for their service. The City Council should, however, consult with all labor organizations across the New York City to ensure premium or hazard pay benefits are maximized to their full extent.

Int 1923-2020 colloquially referred to as just cause employment protection for essential workers. The UFT wholeheartedly endorses this legislation.

Int 1926-2020 commonly referred to as paid sick leave for gig economy workers. The UFT supports the City Council’s efforts to expand the city’s definition of employee to extend paid sick leave to gig economy workers.

T2020-6139 a pre-considered introduction to extend health insurance coverage for surviving family members of municipal employees who died as a result of complications related to COVID-19. The UFT along with its state and federal affiliates, NYSUT and AFT respectively, have launched an advocacy campaign targeting the New York State congressional delegation to ensure COBRA coverage for a period of time to families of public employees who were taken by COVID-19. We look forward to working with the City Council on this legislative initiative so that no family member of a deceased public employee goes without health insurance.

Res 1285-2020 a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign legislation clarifying the test for classification of workers as independent contractors or employees. We believe that this is a valuable initiative, and appreciate the City Council’s advocacy.

T2020-6145 a pre-considered resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign legislation that would automatically classify the deaths of all municipal employees who died from COVID-19 as line-of-duty deaths. We support the City Council’s advocacy on this matter and recommend that the resolution include a reference to State legislation introduced by Assembly Member Peter Abbate A.10239 seeking to accomplish the goal of this resolution. Additionally, to ensure the call to the legislature and governor is as comprehensive as possible and all municipal employees are covered, we recommend the resolution make explicit reference to accidental disability retirement and accidental death benefits commonly referred to as “line of duty” benefits for the city’s public employees.

The UFT thanks this committee on all members of the city council for this thoughtful legislative package in light of the current public health and economic crises caused by the novel coronavirus. As labor, we appreciate and applaud your commitment to our working men and women who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and moving forward.