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Legislative Memo

BILL:

S.7427 (Velella) / A.9314-A (Nolan)

Support

SUBJECT:

Public Utility Truth in Reporting and Worker Protection Act

 

DATE:

June 12, 2002

 

The Business Council of New York State, Inc., whose membership includes over 4,000 member companies, chambers of commerce, and associations, has reviewed the aforementioned legislation and is opposed to its enactment.

The proposed legislation provides what the sponsors claim to be protections for public utility employees that report what employees believe to be anti-consumer practices of the public utility to the Public Service Commission. In reality, however, this legislation merely requires these utilities to employ additional workers to comply with inordinate record keeping and service quality requirements.

Although the sponsor's memorandum in support of this legislation claims current law is unclear, Section 25 of the Public Service Law, a law that has been in place for nearly a century, CLEARLY requires public utility companies, officers, agents and employees thereof to obey and comply with all provisions of this chapter and every order or regulation adopted by the Public Service Commission (PSC). This provision has seemingly worked effectively until the CWA became dissatisfied with the results of a PSC investigation into unsubstantiated allegations the union made last year against Verizon. Additionally, Sections 215 and 740 of the Labor Law prohibit employers in general from penalizing and retaliating against employees that identify employer violations.

Under the guise of service quality, an overused buzz word of late, the CWA is attempting to circumvent a process that historically has worked effectively. How does this proposal improve the service and or the quality of utility companies? The proposal simply insures that employers are unfairly penalized when attempting to deal with complaints by their employees.

Also, why is there not a provision for unfair or false claims brought by the employee against the utility? Should the employee not face some kind of consequences when they wrongly accuse the employer? If the PSC and the employer have to go through the expense of reviewing and investigating these complaints, then the employer should be able to penalize said employees.

For the above stated reasons the Business Council opposes S.7427/A.9314-A and requests it not be acted upon this session.