Finding  Common Ground Between
New York Business and Labor
April 27, 2009 
Articles in this Issue:

NY State Budget

$1 Health Care Claim Surcharge Defeated

NYS Budget Details

State Comptroller DiNapoli on Budget

CSEA Statement

AARP Statement

PEF Statement

Victories for Uninsured New Yorkers

Level the Playing Field: Business Should Support the Employee Free Choice Act

Statement by Bruce Ventimiglia, Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC & Co-Chair BALCONY
There is one proposed piece of federal legislation that could do more to ensure the survival of America's imperiled middle class than all the indirect bailouts now being debated by the  Obama Administration and Congress.  This is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a measure that allows unrepresented employees to organize unions without fear of management retaliation.  The Employee Free Choice Act also modernizes the National Labor Relations Act (in existence since the 1930s) and toughens the sanctions imposed against employers that violate the rights and privileges of their workers.

Read the entire op ed piece: Bruce Ventimiglia


BALCONY strongly urges New York State legislators from the Senate and Assembly to craft an equitable solution to the financial crisis consuming the Metropolitan Transit Authority, to stop the MTA from instituting precipitous fare increases across the metropolitan area.  If our representatives do not take action soon, the MTA will impose its "doomsday budget," a rise of 25% per cent or more on the fares of straphangers and regional commuters.  In a "city that never sleeps," this will mean not only increased fares, but also service cutbacks, especially bothersome for people who work on swing or night shifts.  A massive increase in MTA fares and fees is the most regressive way to alleviate the MTA's financial crisis imaginable.  BALCONY recognizes the need for some modest fare increases, perhaps 7% or 8%, but hopes these will be more fairly distributed, not just assessed on that class of commuters, subway riders, who can least afford to bear the added burden.  Contact your New York State Senator and Assemblyman and register your commitment to save public transportation.
FPI Report: NYC Nonprofit Sector, the Largest Private Employer
Called a vital part of the safety net, source of jobs for minorities
Nonprofit organizations in New York City-hospitals, social service providers, arts organizations-employ nearly 500,000 workers, just over 15 percent of the total, according to a new report released by the Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI). That makes the so-called "health and human services and cultural nonprofits" (HHSC) sector the largest private employer in New York City. And it's growing, even in tough times, having gained jobs through both upswings and downturns in the economy. From 2000 to 2007, the nonprofit HHSC sector added more than 50,000 jobs, while the rest of the city's private economy lost jobs. The sector's current annual payroll in the city tops $20 billion.

"During this severe recession, increased demands for a range of safety net services will fall upon the city's nonprofit health and human services sector," said the Fiscal Policy Institute's chief economist, James Parrott, the principal author of the report. "These increased demands come at a time when the nonprofit sector is under pressure from severely constrained city and state budgets-and facing mounting challenges as philanthropies and foundations scale back."

Read the Full Report
New BALCONY Members
Carl Andrews & Associates
Get Out The Vote


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In conjunction with the Rochester Business and Labor Roundtable, BALCONY will host a Rochester Area Health Care Forum on Friday, May 1 at 8:00 a.m. at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester. The event will focus on finding common ground between business and labor on practical solutions for improving New York's health care system, with particular emphasis on the Greater Rochester Community.

Click here for details: Rochester

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Chris Ward, Port Authority 

 June 17, 2009

New York's Port Authority

Infrastructure Investment and Economic Development  
Featuring Chris Ward, Executive Director, Port Authority, New York and New Jersey and Dr. James Melius, LECET Administrator and BALCONY executive board member.
New York and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corporation, 395 Hudson Street
8:00 a.m.: Coffee & Light Breakfast
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.: Panel 
10:30 a.m.: End
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Human Rights Awards on Anne Frank's 80th Birthday
The Anne Frank Center USA will hold its 13th Annual Spirit of Anne Frank Awards on Monday, June 15, 2009, commemorating Anne Frank's 80th birthday on June 12 and the 50th anniversary of the release of the film "The Diary of Anne Frank" in 1959. For more information call (212) 431-7993 or click here: Frank
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The Working Theater

Fri. Apr. 17 - Sun. May 17 - "Exit Cuckoo"; the latest production from the Working Theater, written and performed by Lisa Ramirez about the overlooked world of working mothers; at the Clurman Theater, 410 W. 42nd St. in Manhattan; show times at Tues. 7 p.m., Wed-Sat. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m., and Sun. 3 p.m.; tickets $25; more info at
212-279-4200 or:
633 Third Avenue, 16th Floor 
New York, NY 10017
Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, represents more than 1,000 New York businesses, labor unions, and trade associations.

BALCONY seeks common ground in the public policy debate in New York to spur economic development through the adoption of business/union friendly, socially responsible common sense laws that maintain and improve the quality of life for working New Yorkers.

The Business and Labor Coalition of New York, BALCONY, gave its qualified support for the newly-enacted New York State 2009-2010 budget, one that includes a 1% hike in the tax rate on individual incomes over $200,000 and family/joint filers over $300,000, and a hike of slightly more than 2% on incomes over $500,000. These rate increases have been enacted for the next three years, meaning that they will expire around the time that the federal stimulus monies cease. 
New York State expects this surcharge to bring in over $4 billion for the state's coffers each year.  Given the steady drift away from a progressive tax code during the mid- and late-1990s, adding two new brackets to the top of the state's tax structure made a lot of sense. Also, since New York has lost 200,000 jobs already in this recession, the high-end income tax increase was vital in averting even more damaging state spending cuts that would have exacerbated the recession's effects and deprived deserving New Yorkers of essential public services. 
We are not out of the budget woods yet, however, BALCONY is concerned that working families will suffer further if the Paterson Administration lays off 8,700 state employees including members of CSEA and PEF (see comments below  by CSEA President Danny Donohue and PEF President Ken Brynien).

Continue reading the Balcony Budget Report here: Budget

NY State Senate 2009-2010 Fiscal Year Budget Bills link.
The Business and Labor Coalition of New York, BALCONY, successfully opposed Governor Paterson's plan to add a $1 processing fee to all health, pharmaceutical, dental, and vision claims over $20 submitted by third party administrators.  "The claim by Albany is that such a fee would have added at least $63 million to state coffers," said BALCONY labor chairman Alan Lubin.  "But it would have also contributed to rising health care costs at a time when containing these costs is foremost on most policymakers' minds.  It also would have added yet another layer of bureaucracy, without guaranteeing better or more comprehensive service."
The controversial Third Party Administrator Tax would have treated companies or municipalities that self-insure the same as those that use conventional insurance.  Since many unions are self-insured, they foresaw that the costs of administering this surcharge, and the surcharge payments themselves, might well be passed along to them.  Unions see this as a back-handed avenue to chip away already-established union benefits.
Albany Lobbyist Richard Winsten, of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, who represents many labor/management and other self-insured union benefit funds, led the opposition to the Governor's TPA tax plan, stating "Union members and self-insured funds would have been adversely impacted by the ill-conceived proposal which was rescinded by the governor and killed by the legislature."

BALCONY has talked with its union members, who all oppose this surcharge and who also point out that such a tax penalizes employers who provide insurance while doing nothing to compel those employers who do not offer insurance to improve their offering.  Typical of the union response was this statement from Anthony Potenza, the Executive Director of the New York Labor Health Care Alliance: "It was gratifying to see the defeat of the budget proposal to levy a $1 per claim tax on self-insured and self-funded health care plans. Our New York Labor Health Care Alliance with great support from the New York State AFL-CIO worked hard to defeat this onerous budget measure. We are extremely grateful to BALCONY and Director Lou Gordon for their early and critical support of our position in opposition to what would have been an unfair added cost to our union health benefit plans affecting each and every participant."
Bill Hohlfeld of the Local 46 Labor Management Trust stated "We couldn't be more pleased that this $1.00 surcharge has been defeated. While a dollar may seem like a small amount of money to some, it represented a real issue for us, and we are happy to have been party to the process that made this thing go away. Principles should be neither sacrificed nor ignored - at any price."
Andy Johnson, Administrator for the Teamster Center Services Fund, added "It is encouraging to see that Albany has dropped the proposed $1 per claim surcharge.  We all must do our part to balance the budget but it is foolish to try and derive income from driving up the health care costs of working families."

"It was good that labor and management, through BALCONY,  worked together to defeat some of these draconian taxes on health insurance claims for our members. We need to continue to work together to assure that health care for all is affordable and attainable," concluded Art Wilcox of the New York State AFL-CIO. 

Governor Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Smith and Assembly Speaker Silver Announce Budget Agreement to Close Largest Budget Gap in State History

Governor David A. Paterson, Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith and Speaker Sheldon Silver announced March 29, 2009, a budget agreement to close the largest budget gap in State history, institute long-overdue reforms that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State government, and stabilize New York's long-term finances by dramatically reducing future projected deficits.


Health Care


State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on the State Budget

New York faced an extraordinary challenge to adopt a 2009-10 State Budget in the context of a daunting recession. My preliminary review of the budget indicates it does not adequately respond to today's economic realities.

The budget is not a long-term solution to New York's propensity to spend more than the state can afford. While the budget proposes to close an unprecedented gap, it does so by an over reliance on non-recurring federal stimulus funds and new tax revenues projected to materialize at a time of declining tax receipts.

This is essentially a buy-time budget, based on a hope that the economy recovers quickly. It's a very fragile basket to place all the taxpayers' eggs in. Instead of using the Federal stimulus to restructure the financial plan and match projected revenues to long term growth in spending, the budget uses stimulus funds as a short-term fix.

The danger is that New York could end up right back where we started, with huge budget gaps and an unsustainable level of spending. I will provide a more detailed review of the enacted budget shortly.

Comptroller's website
CSEA to Governor Paterson: Stop Your Union-Busting

Statement by CSEA President Danny Donohue

ALBANY - CSEA believes it is time for a reality check over Gov. David Paterson's continuing misrepresentation about the need for state layoffs.

The Paterson administration has repeatedly made it clear that the issue is not about budget savings for the state. The governor's political agenda is to extract concessions from the unionized state employees. There is no amount of savings that CSEA could help the administration achieve through any means that would be acceptable to the administration unless it involves reopening a fairly negotiated contract and inflicting pain on the unionized work force.

Their political agenda should be clear from their captive audience letter to state employees seeking to undermine their unions.

It should be clear from their decision to exempt management/confidential employees, including political appointees, from layoffs in a move that reflects bad management and bad public policy.

It is reckless and irresponsible to put people and services at risk in a scheme to lay off 8,900 people and threaten the services they deliver to the public all to try to score political points.

It all amounts to bad faith labor relations, which are not good for anyone. All New Yorkers deserve better from the Paterson administration.
PEF Demands Governor Stop Playing Politics with People's Lives

Statement by PEF President Kenneth Brynien

"Governor David Paterson continues to play a damaging game of politics with the state workforce and their families. We are disappointed that he continues to claim to have only two choices: concessions or layoffs," New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) President Kenneth Brynien stated at a press conference today held at the union's headquarters in Latham." Read the entire release: PEF

Click here to see the PEF Rally Handout
Older New Yorkers Maintain Key Health and Community Services in New York State Budget

Statement by Lois Aronstein
AARP NY State Director

AARP commends Governor Paterson, Majority Leader Smith, and Speaker Silver for their leadership in recognizing the critical needs of vulnerable New Yorkers in these tough economic times. Several key services that are critical to older New Yorkers and which at the
same time save the state money were preserved in the final state budget agreement.

Read the entire statement: AARP
Victories for Uninsured New Yorkers

"During a very difficult budget year, the Governor and Legislature still managed to do several very positive things to help New Yorkers obtain good health care coverage during the current economic recession, and we appreciate those efforts," said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign.

"These steps include streamlining public insurance programs to help uninsured people enroll in them, expanding the state's Family Health Plus program to cover more uninsured, strengthening accountability standards for charity care funding of services for the uninsured, and keeping premiums affordable within the state's Child Health Plus and Medicaid Buy-in programs. That said, we remain concerned about some budget provisions that will raise insurance premiums in the private market, and the state's failure to fully fund its stop-loss fund for the individual market. More New Yorkers may not be able to afford to buy or keep private coverage as a result and will become uninsured. We will be working with the Governor's office, State Insurance Dept., and Legislature on issues concerning the private insurance market as we move forward in this year's legislative session. We also are concerned about impacts of the budget on the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, since HHC serves many uninsured New Yorkers."