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Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

February 7, 2007

Council opposes proposed change to labor law

A proposed change to the state's labor law would diminish unions' incentives to negotiate with employers and increase employers' unemployment insurance costs, the Business Council said in a memo filed in opposition to the proposed legislation.

New York, one of only two states to offer unemployment insurance to striking workers, has a mandatory waiting period of seven weeks for striking workers whose employers have hired replacements. If enacted, the legislation, S.627, would waive that waiting period, the memo said.

The memo argued that the bill removed the incentive for employers and workers to settle labor disputes as soon as possible.

Employers lose business during strikes, while employees lose wages, the memo said. “It is these balanced pressures on both parties that eventually result in the settlement of the disagreement and an end to the strike," the memo said.

“This legislation upsets that balance,” the memo said. “The Legislature should not take sides in these controversies and bestow benefits on one party through this type of legislation.”

The legislation would also result in increased subsidies to striking workers by their employers, the memo explained.

“Employers already subsidize strikes because New York law authorizes unemployment insurance benefits to strikers after a seven-week waiting period,” the memo said. “This legislation extends the current subsidy provided by New York's employers.”