Legislative Memo


S.406 (Velella)/A.7895 (John)



Public Utility Truth in Reporting and Worker Protection Act



June 9, 2003


The Business Council of New York State, Inc., whose membership includes over 3,600 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 this legislation and requests it not
be acted upon this session.