February 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

2014 started off with a big bang on New Year's Day when Bill de Blasio was sworn in as the 109th Mayor of New York City and the following week  Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his State of the State address in Albany.

BALCONY members are faced with many challenges ranging from the State Budget, to Women's Equality, to Infrastructure Investment, to Universal Pre-K, to New York State of Health, and to the Implementation of a Minimum Wage of at least $10.10.  

This report provides policy perspectives on these and many other issues from key members of the BALCONY Coalition including Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA local 1180; Susan Kent, President of PEF;  Michael Mulgrew, President of UFT; The General Contractors Association of New York; the Fiscal Policy Institute; the New York Building Congress.

We also urge you to participate in some of the  upcoming events of our members: Greater New York Chamber of Commerce  Celebrates Black History Month ON February 27, a Labor Press Health Care Symposium also on February 27, the Long Island AFL-CIO Gala on March 6th, and the Diabetes Expo on March 15th at the Javits Center.

We invite you to join us at the 4th Annual BALCONY on Broadway benefit on March 5th at the new production of Rocky the Musical! It promises to be a fun night.

Lastly, we urge you to join BALCONY, become a member of our coalition, now in its 6th year, as we continue to Find Common Ground Between Business and Labor in New York.


Alan Lubin, BALCONY Founder and Co-Chair

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director





ROCKY, The Musical: BALCONY Broadway Benefit, March 5

PEF: Hundreds Gather for Albany Save Our Services Rally

FPI: NYS Budget Fails to Meet Needs

OMCE to Governor Cuomo:
Right a Wrong by Restoring the M/C Salary Structure

General Contractors Association Symposium

New York's Infrastructure Challenge:
Report by Building Congress

UFT Supports Universal Pre-K

  NYSUT: Amid Positives, state aid proposal woefully inadequate

UUP Fights for SUNY Downstate Hospital

More Than 380,000 New Yorkers Have Enrolled On
NY State of Health

Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

BALCONY FIGHTS for Higher Minimum Wage

Cheliotes: Koch Negotiator Linn Gets de Blasio Labor Job

Staten Island $220 Million Development is Union Friendly

NY Women's Equality Coalition Breaking News

EffectiveNY Launches State-Wide Campaign

Teamsters Local 237 Gets Comptroller Stringer to Audit NYCHA

DEMOS President Rapoport
Takes Common Cause President Job;
Heather McGhee New Demos President

Labor Press Health Care Summit, Feb. 27

Black History Month Awards Reception, Feb. 27 (evening)

Long Island AFL CIO Annual Reception, March 6

NYC DIABETES EXPO  on March 15th












  Click above for details, tickets, and Sponsorship

View the Promotional Videos:  ROCKY






PEF President Susan Kent

PEF: Hundreds Gather for Albany Save Our Services Rally

A large and energetic crowd gathered for the "Save Our Services" rally on January 29th at a state office building in Albany. Organized by the New York State Public Employees Federation, among those in attendance were members of American Federation of Teachers, United University Professions, New York State United Teachers, and New York State AFL-CIO. PEF President Susan Kent gave an impassioned speech, saying "We all stand united-trade unions and public sector unions-speaking with one voice. And this is our message: Stop diminishing and dismantling and destroying services."

Read the full text here:






NYS Budget Fails to Meet Needs

The Fiscal Policy Institute questions whether Governor Cuomo's proposed budget is out of touch and falls short of what is necessary for a state "which has gone through six years of austerity and that has stretched the financial capacity of its municipalities, schools and agencies to the limit." They have three major concerns: unspecified cuts in the four year financial plan, the uncertainty surrounding the Federal Medicare Waiver, and whether or not consolidations made by localities will be meaningful.

Read the full Fiscal Policy Institute statement here:




OMCE Executive Director Joe Sano



OMCE to Governor Cuomo:

Right a Wrong by Restoring the M/C Salary Structure


The Organization of New York State Management/Confidential (M/C) Employees called on Governor Cuomo to include a "long delayed" compensation adjustment for M/C employees in his 2014-2015 Executive budget. OMCE noted that M/C employees-who are less than 6% of the state workforce-have had their wages frozen since 2008 and are being paid less than their counterparts who work at the same grade level. Barbara Zaron, President of OMCE stated, "All we are asking is for the Governor to right a wrong by applying basic standards of fairness to Management/Confidential employees."

Read the full release here:






Former Executive Director and CEO of MTA Lee Sander made a stirring presentation on at the recent General Contractors Association of New York symposium on January 13th. Creating a More Competitive, Liveable, Resilient and Equitable New York.- The City's Capital Program. 

View the entire presentation:  GCA






New York's Infrastructure Challenge: Report by Building Congress

Governor Cuomo addressed infrastructure initiatives in his State of the State address on Jan. 10th to positive reviews by the New York Building Congress. Among the topics the Governor brought up were New York's deteriorating airports, although he did not touch on potential projects or funding. The Governor also stated he "will seek to build out the State's 'energy superhighway' by incentivizing and expediting the review process for more energy transmission as a way to deliver clean energy from upstate to downstate customers." Also, the Governor talked about the continued recovery effort from Superstorm Sandy, noting that he intends to use $5 billion in federal disaster relief funds to repair MTA's infrastructure, as well as constructing an entirely new service in the Bronx. Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson stated, "Governor Cuomo has now laid out an ambitious, yet achievable, set of initiatives designed to significantly upgrade and fortify the region's infrastructure against future natural disasters. The New York Building Congress pledges its assistance in the Governor's efforts to secure the funds he needs to implement these proposals."

Read the entire infrastructure report by Building Congress here:




UFT Supports Universal Pre-K


Michael Mulgrew, UFT President

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew wrote on op-ed that appeared in the January 16th issue of New York Teacher stating UFT's support for planned full day pre-kindergarten for every child in New York City. "With our new mayor making pre-K his signature education initiative, the stars are aligning to get it done. With your support, we will make full day pre-K for all four-year-olds a reality in our city," wrote Mulgrew.


Read the full article here:






NYSUT: Amid Positives, state aid proposal woefully inadequate

Governor Cuomo's education budget proposal is a decent start, but ultimately falls well short of what is required, according to NYSUT. The newly formed state panel offers an "opportunity for the governor to address the state's over-reliance on standardized testing and obvious need for major course corrections, including a moratorium to give SED time to get it right." NYSUT has endorsed a "$1.9 billion state aid increase as necessary to get public education funding back on track."

"There is no question this proposal is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of New York school children. Ending the achievement gap and insuring that all children, especially those that are most vulnerable, have an equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education must be the state's top priority," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta testified to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees about how the state's education budget is not sufficient to meet the needs of many school districts. "New York's schools are still reeling from multiple years of painful cuts imposed on them," Pallotta said. "These cuts have caused class sizes to balloon, decimated course offerings and made after-school programs disappear."

Andrew Pallotta

Richard Iannuzzi

Read the entire NYSUT article here:


Read Andy Pallotta's full testimony here:





UUP Fights for SUNY Downstate Hospital

UUP President Fred Kowal



United University Professions President Fred Kowal addressed a frenzied crowd at January 29th's "Save Our Services" Rally in Albany, reinforcing the need to protect the critical healthcare services available at SUNY Downstate. "If you want to build the state, governor, stand with us, because we've built it for a future that we and our kids and our grandkids can be proud of, and if you can't do that, get out of the way and let us do our jobs," Kowal said.


Read the full version of UUP's statement here:





More Than 380,000 New Yorkers Have Enrolled On
NY State of Health Since Oct. 1 Launch

More Than 657,000 New Yorkers Have Completed Full Applications on NY State of Health 

State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah Details Enrollment Figures at Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2014-2015 Health and Medicaid Executive Budget Proposal.

Read the full report:  NYStateOfHealth



Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

New York State Nurses Association has all you need to know on the proposed State Staffing for Quality Care Act, which will set nurse-to-patient ratios in New York Health Care facilities.

Read more about the law on their website here:





BALCONY FIGHTS for Higher Minimum Wage


Cynthia DiBartolo

  Lou Gordon


President Obama's call for a $10.10 minimum wage in the State of the Union address, has once again moved this to be a hot button issue and  nowhere more so than here in New York. BALCONY members have weighed in support of raising the minimum wage, as well as giving cities and counties the power to raise it locally. The Fiscal Policy Institute released a short summary on this very issue, citing examples from other states where localities are able to raise minimum wages. Local groups call for higher minimum wage: White Paper 

In February of 2013, BALCONY executive board member Cynthia DiBartolo, CEO of Tigress Financial Partners, praised BALCONY's support for raising the minimum wage. Earlier in April of 2012, BALCONY Director Lou Gordon called  for an increase  to $10 dollars an hour. "We, like the Fiscal Policy Institute, believe the State of  New York  must  enact and phased in a $10 an hour minimum wage, starting at $8.50 and gradually increasing to $10 in 2014," wrote Gordon in 2012.  


Read Cynthia DiBartolo's article here: DiBartolo

Read Lou Gordon's article here: Gordon

From the New York Times -- February 9, 2014

The Case for a Higher Minimum Wage 


By The Editorial Board

An increase would help 27.8 million people. It would also help balance power in the workplace.  Read the full article:  Minimum Wage 





Cheliotes: Koch Negotiator Linn Gets de Blasio Labor Job

Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180

Robert W. Linn, former Labor commissioner under the Koch administration, was introduced by Mayor de Blasio to the same position last month. Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180 gave his thoughts on the matter in an article by Richard Steier of The Chief. From the article, "Some union leaders during that period accused Mr. Linn of being a bit too cheeky when there were disagreements, and Mr. Cheliotes said, "One of the things that troubles me is, I don't know if he has an appreciation for the career civil servant." But, he added, Mr. Linn's having sometimes represented unions as a consultant-most notably the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in its 2002 contract arbitration case-since leaving city government when Mr. Koch's term ended meant that "having been on both sides, I think he may be able to work some deals out. Bob's a professional negotiator, but the policies of the Mayor are the key."




Staten Island $220 Million Development
is Union Friendly


An agreement between three labor unions and BFC Partners has been reached to build the $220 million St. George waterfront redevelopment project on Staten Island after the New York City Council voted to approve the undertaking. The three labor unions of the Build Up NYC alliance are the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, the New York Hotel Trades Council, and 32BJ SEIU. Gary LaBarbara, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and of Build Up NYC says, "This agreement will bring good jobs for Staten Island residents and to the North Shore community.

Read the entire press release here:




NY Women's Equality Coalition Breaking News

The NY Women's Equality Coalition in which BALCONY executive board member Cynthia DiBartolo is a key member, is pleased that the New York legislature is putting women's equality at the forefront of 2014 issues by passing the Women's Equality Agenda. An overwhelming majority of New York voters support the cause, with NY Women's Equality Coalition noting that "eighty-nine percent think equal pay for women should be a high priority."


Read the entire press release here: http://nywomensequality.org/newsroom/ 







EffectiveNY Launches State-Wide Campaign



EffectiveNY, "a progressive good-government organization, today announced the launch of a bold new statewide effort to challenge Governor Cuomo's record and rhethoric, and dispute his narrative of progress and reform that will serve as the basis for his re-election bid this year." EffectiveNY will tackle a variety of issues in the near future, with the first issue on their ballot being Medicaid. "Our state deserves-and can have-the best legislature and the best leadership in the entire country. But today were still very far from achieving that reality. Many states are racing ahead of us, and we need to catch up fast," says EffectiveNY Founder Bill Samuels.

Visit the newly launched EffectiveNY website here: www.effectiveny.org




Teamsters Local 237 Gets Comptroller Stringer to Audit NYCHA

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer's office met with several labor leaders and members of Congress on January 23rd at Teamsters Headquarters in order to gather input and concerns pertaining to the operational practices of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). An audit has already begun. Gregory Floyd, President of Teamsters Local 237 and in attendance said, "I am gratified that the hardships our union members have long endured due to mismanagement at NYCHA are now going to be addressed." Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), also in attendance, had this to say, "I commend Comptroller Stringer for beginning the comprehensive audit and I look forward to its findings-whatever they may be. One thing is clear though...it will no longer be business as usual at NYCHA. Reform is coming."

Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Gerald Nadler join Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd to call for an audit of the New York City Housing Authority.


(left to right)
Mario Cilento (NYS AFLCIO) 

Representative Yvette Clarke

Representative Carolyn Maloney

Greg Floyd, President Teamsters Local 237 

Representative Jerold Nadler

Representative Grace Meng 

Vincent Alvarez (NYC Central Labor Council)  




DEMOS President Rapoport Takes Common Cause President Job; Heather McGhee New Demos President

Miles Rapoport

The President of DEMOS for 13 years, Miles Rapoport, is stepping down to head Common Cause, "a grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American Democracy." DEMOS goes on to praise the tenure of Mr. Rapoport stating, "Long a champion of strengthening our nation's democracy, Rapoport has had a distinguished career as an elected official, activist, organizer, and advocate for over four decades. Under his leadership, DEMOS' litigation and advocacy work helped enable more than two million low-income Americans to register to vote at public service agencies in states around the country. DEMOS has also helped pass Same Day Registration in seven new states, a reform Miles championed in the Connecticut legislature."    Former Vice President Heather McGhee has been announced as the new DEMOS president. McGhee said, "I am honored that DEMOS' board and staff have entrusted me with the leadership of this extraordinary organization at this moment." 

Heather McGhee


Read the entire DEMOS press release on Miles Rapoport here:

Read the DEMOS press release on New President Heather McGhee here:






Health Care Summit
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Keynote by R. Thomas Buffenbarger,
International President,
International Assoc. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers


Call: 347-695-6589


For tickets and information: Health Care Summit





Black History Month Awards Reception

Thursday, February 27th 2014


HealthFirst Headquarters

100 Church Street, 16th Floor

New York City

Special Presenters:

Cheryl Wills of NY1 & William McCreary; Former Anchor Channel 5 News

Honorees Include:

Dr. Gerald Deas M.D.; Public Health Advocate

Irving "Lord" Burgess; Writer of Great Calypso Tunes

Melba Moore; Tony Award Winning Actress & Grammy Nominated Singer

Must RSVP www.ny-chamber.com

For more information:  NY-Chamber

Or call:  212-686-7220



Long Island AFL-CIO Annual Reception

Thursday March 6th

Hilton Long Island / Huntington

for details call Kathy 631-348-1170

Tickets are $225







As a BALCONY member, we encourage you and your families to take advantage in attending the FREE American Diabetes Association Expo, presented by Healthfirst, scheduled Sat., March 15 at the Javits Center-North Wing from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

BALCONY is cooperating with the ADA in demonstrating its commitment to preventing diabetes in the Greater New York area, and working toward the cure of this epidemic which currently affects one in every nine New Yorkers.

 On site at Expo will be free health screenings, multilingual informational presentations, celebrity chefs preparing healthy meals, and "Ask the Expert" area to pose medical and insurance questions re: the Affordable Care Act for your clarification.

For advance registration  www.diabetes.org/newyorkexpo or
call 1-888-DIABETES.





(Click HERE for the PDF version of the
Membership Directory by Sector)








4 West 43rd Street, Suite 405
New York, NY 10036
www.balconynewyork.com (212) 219-7777

Lou Gordon, Director





Alan Lubin, Co-Chair Labor
Catherine M. Abate, Co-Chair Non-Profit, President/CEO, Community HealthCare Network

Executive Board

Anthony Potenza, Executive Director, New York Labor Health Care Alliance
Anita Kartalopoulos, Partner, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP

Cynthia D. DiBartolo, Tigress Financial Partners
Mark Jaffe, BALCONY Treasurer; President, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Ventimiglia, Saratoga Capital Management

BALCONY Support Team

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director
Richard Winsten, Counsel, MSEK
Diane Masters, BALCONY Director of Special Projects
Mike Lawrence, BALCONY Policy Consultant

Katie Brandenstein, BALCONY Events Consultant
Kevin R. Weaver, Web Master and Computer Consultant

BALCONY is a 501c(4) non-profit. Contributions are not tax deductible and BALCONY makes no political endorsements nor campaign contributions.