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News from BALCONY

Broadway Box Office: ‘Finding Neverland’ Soars in First Preview

April 15th, 2015

Gordon Cox
Legit Editor @GCoxVariety

The Harvey Weinstein-produced musical adaptation of “Finding Neverland” took flight in its first Broadway preview last week, selling out the house and posting the kind of box office that, if it continued for a whole week of performances, would have seen the show top $1 million. Read the full review: Finding Neverland

BALCONY Supports #Fight for 15

April 14th, 2015
Balcony_logo small lk

Tomorrow, in New York and across the nation and the globe, protesters will take to the streets to call on billionaire corporations like McDonald’s to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour with union rights.  The Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY) has long championed raising the minimum wage to ensure that workers have enough to pay for themselves and their families.  BALCONY salutes all those who are able to participate in tomorrow’s Fight for 15 rallies.  For more information on how you can be involved please click on the following link.

In Solidarity,

Alan Lubin, Co-Chair, Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY)

Budget Leftovers on the Tax Menu for the Remainder of the Legislative Session

April 14th, 2015
Fiscal Policy Institute

Wondering what tax provisions were in the final budget and which were not? The final FY 2015-16 budget is actually more notable for the tax proposals that were left out than for what is included. In the FY 2015-16 Executive Budget, the governor proposed three major tax changes: a new property tax circuit breaker for low- and middle-income homeowners and renters, an education tax credit, and a modest reduction in taxes on small corporations. None of these changes were included in the final budget, however, property tax relief and the education tax credit are expected to be revisited later in the legislative session. This FPI brief summarizes selected tax provisions proposed by the governor or legislature.

1180’s Important Milestone in Journey for Justice for Administrative Managers

April 14th, 2015

We have reached an important milestone in our Journey to Justice for our Administrative Managers and all who will become Administrative Managers in the future. On Monday, April 6, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released determinations, in response to complaints filed by Communications Workers of America Local 1180, finding that there is reasonable cause to believe that New York City has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 in its employment of Administrative Managers.

The EEOC, a federal government agency with jurisdiction over municipalities like NYC, has made a series of recommendations to the City to right this wrong, including increasing the minimum salary to $92,117, and submitting back wages totaling approximately $188 million and compensatory damages of nearly $57 million. However, it is very important to note that this is only a recommendation of the EEOC. At this stage in the process, known as conciliation, the City is not required to pay these amounts. However, an adverse determination has been made against the City that there is reasonable cause to believe the City has violated the law, and the EEOC will now take steps in an effort to eliminate the alleged unlawful employment practices. This is good news for our case. But again, this is a finding, NOT a court decision. There is still a lot of work to do.

Alliance for Quality Education evaluation of the 2015-16 New York State budget

April 8th, 2015

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers engaged in a fierce battle against Governor Cuomo’s outright attack on public education. Cuomo was backed in his efforts by a handful of billionaire hedge fund managers who are promoting a privatization and test and punish agenda for our schools. On some important issues, with the support of the State Assembly Majority, our students and communities won, on others we suffered significant setbacks for students, teachers, and schools.

The State Senate Majority, backed by the same hedge fund cabal, was closely aligned with Governor Cuomo on many of his efforts. In January Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said he saw “giving the governor more control of education as appropriate.” When talking specifically about teacher evaluations, Skelos made it very clear that the Senate was standing with the Governor: “We want to make sure it’s strong and it means something. The Assembly is, unfortunately, trying to water it down.” The Senate also stood with the Governor on diverting money from public schools to private schools through an education tax credit, on more funding for privately run charter schools and on increasing the number of these publicly funded, privately run schools in New York State.

This year’s budget fight is not the end of the road, the well-financed attacks on public education will continue and our demand for high-quality education for all students without regard to race, income and zip code is far from over. AQE has been at the forefront of the fight for educational quality and opportunity for all students for a long time. Please take the time to read our evaluation of the 2015-16 New York State budget.

Building Congress 2015 Policy Agenda Urges Action on Infrastructure Investment

April 8th, 2015

Full funding for the MTA capital program and a robust New York City capital budget are the top policy priorities for the New York Building Congress in 2015. The Building Congress 2015 Policy Agenda is part of the Building Congress Infrastructure Campaign, an effort to focus public attention on the need for intelligent investment in core assets like mass transit, roads, and schools, while urging government to improve procurement practices.

Public Employees Federation 2015-2016 Budget Summary

April 7th, 2015

Please see the summary of the legislative actions taken on PEF’s budget concerns in the recently enacted 2015-2016 budget HERE.

Women's History Month Awards REPORT

April 7th, 2015

On Friday, March 27th, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce (GNYCC) hosted a networking breakfast and forum celebrating Women's History Month at the Hard Rock Café in NYC. The event was attended by approximately 200 representatives of New York's business, non-profit, government and labor communities and honored 7 women who have done extraordinary work in advancing women's rights through their actions and example.

Click here for the full report: Women
News from BALCONY Archives
News From and About Our Members

PEF Contract Talks Are Underway

April 17th, 2015

Albany – Formal negotiations for the PS&T contract between PEF and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) took off Wednesday, April 15 in Colonie. PEF’s 19 member team, plus staff advisors, sat across a full team from GOER, headed by Joseph Bress, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s labor negotiator.

Maureen Kellman, chair of the contract team, shook hands with Bress as a sign of good faith bargaining before the team started their discussion. Both teams came well-prepared and enthusiastic to tackle the contract proposals.

PEF has been preparing for this meeting since October, and is focused on getting a fair contract that includes economic gain, re-professionalism of PEF, and a work life/home life balance.

As negotiations continue, PEF will keep members informed without compromising the integrity of the negotiations.


April 6th, 2015

Pact comes weeks after union and elected officials and community leaders arrested for civil disobedience

NEW YORK (April 2, 2015) – After a more than four-month strike during the coldest winter in recent memory, ‘carwasheros’ at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope have won a landmark contract agreement that includes wage hikes, strong worker protections and a $1,500-per-person signing bonus.

The owner also agreed to settle a suit the workers filed for wage and hour violations. The men will return to work Monday.

“This is a perfect example of what can happen when courageous workers stick together in the face of adversity,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “These brave carwasheros spent four months on the picket line, without an income, in a very cold winter. They understand the difference being in a union can make, and I am proud they are part of the RWDSU.”

Leaked Investor Chapter of TPP Worse than Imagined

March 26th, 2015
Washington, D.C. -- Following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen:

“The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake up call for our nation. Amazingly, this chapter is sealed for four years after either adoption or rejection of the TPP. Everything we read and learn makes “Fast Track” authority unimaginable. It’s secrecy on top of secrecy.

March 25th, 2015

Every year, the Medicare Rights Center helps thousands of individuals navigate the complicated Medicare Part D appeals process.

Because the process is the equivalent of a nonsensical maze, it leaves beneficiaries confused, frustrated, and unable to adhere to prescribed treatment plans. It's no wonder that less than 17% of Medicare beneficiaries appealed a plan's denial in 2013.

Call on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to immediately implement reforms to help people with Medicare better navigate Part D denials and appeals.

Reformers are Selling Snake Oil

March 19th, 2015

By Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers

NY Daily News, Thursday, March 19, 2015

In 19th century America, so called “medicine shows” toured rural areas, combining entertainment acts with hucksters pitching pills, powders and potions that promised cures for everything from baldness to cancer despite any evidence any of it worked.
Today’s advocates of “school reform” are doing much the same, pedling nostrums they promise will somehow solve the problems in our schools – many of them highlighted in the Daily News series – even though serious research demonstrates that these strategies don’t work.
News from our Members Archives
BALCONY Issues in the News (Related Articles)

New York City charters leave thousands of seats unfilled despite exploding demand, study finds

April 16th, 2015
washington post

By Emma Brown

New York City’s charter schools are leaving thousands of seats unfilled each year despite ballooning demand and long waiting lists, according to an analysis of public data to be released Friday.

The decision not to fill seats that are left vacant by departing students deprives other deserving students of places in the schools, the report argues. It also means that charter schools can appear to be improving, according to proficiency rates on standardized tests, even as the absolute number of children scoring proficient declines each year, it says.

Teachout Robocalls For Opt-Out Forces

April 13th, 2015
Capital Tonight

By: Nick Reisman

Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in last year's Democratic primary, recorded a robocall informing parents of their right to not have students take state tests.

The call is part of a growing campaign to have students not take standardized tests and potentially dilute results for teacher evaluations.

The Charter School Challenge

April 13th, 2015

by Leo Casey
Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

On the new, more complex political terrain on which we now find ourselves, the old fixed understandings of the difference between public and private ill serve the cause of public education. A simple identification of charter schools as unambiguously public schools or private schools fails to grasp the crucial dimensions of the struggle over the character of charter schools at a time when we need to be focused, laser-like, on what would make charter schools truly and fully public schools. Similarly, a simple defense of district schools as public schools has all of the negative features of an unthinking defense of the status quo at a time when a critique of long-standing inequalities and the “incremental privatization” of district schools over the last decade is more important and more necessary than ever. Effective advocacy for the public character and public content of district schools demands criticism of the actually existing district schools as they have been reorganized under corporate education reform. In this moment of political peril, only a powerful, compelling vision of what it means to be a public school in the fullest meaning of the term “public” can save American public education.

Taxpayers Benefit If Investors Absorb Risks of Infrastructure Projects

April 9th, 2015
NY times small

By: Michael Likosky, co-head of infrastructure at 32 Advisors.

Few would dispute that America faces an infrastructure crisis as cities, states and the nation remain cash-strapped. Just look at the pending transportation bill, which would vastly underfund our needs, to see how low a priority infrastructure is in Washington.

But investors see opportunities to finance the difference between what we need and what we can afford to pay by, say, upgrading a port and being repaid by fees from shippers.

This is distinct from traditionally financed projects in that the investor can only recoup costs, and profit, as long as the port performs well. And the investor would only pay contractors when the job is done to spec. The contractor would have to cover any cost overruns themselves, rather than going back to the government for pay to complete a project. Ultimately, the private investor, not taxpayers, would bear the risk of poor performance or unexpected delays.

America's infrastructure needs vary greatly from project to project. Different investors have grown up to finance distinct needs. Private investment can present a genuine opportunity for governments and communities as long as both sides are attuned to the needs and requirements of the other and the right match is made.

Real estate developers are wary of changes as expiration looms for popular tax break

April 7th, 2015

Real estate executives said they are being left in the dark when it comes to the details being hashed out by the de Blasio administration for a revised 421-a program.

By Daniel Geiger

It’s the $1.1 billion question that no one in the city’s real estate industry has the answer to.

A state tax abatement known as 421-a that is considered key to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of creating 80,000 new affordable apartments in the next decade is set to expire in June. Although the industry expects 421-a to be renewed in some form, no one outside the mayor’s inner circle has any idea what a revised 421-a program will look like. The program cost the city about $1.1 billion in tax revenue last year.
BALCONY Issues in the News Archives