Director of Communications

ALBANY — A new agreement between The Business Council and the New York State AFL-CIO on a bill to reform the state's unemployment insurance (UI) system "will bring New York's unemployment insurance system into the 21st century and save employers millions of dollars in the process," according to Daniel B. Walsh, president of The Business Council.

"Both workers and employers are winners under this deal," Walsh said.

The bill would make the changes to the UI tax tables that The Business Council has been strongly advocating. The Council has argued that changes are necessary to bring more "experience rating" to the system — that is, to make tax rates more accurately reflect employers' experiences with the system.

The bill will save business an estimated $860 million over four years, Walsh noted.

The bill also would increase maximum benefits by 20 percent in 1998 (from $300 to $365 a week) and then in the year 2000 provide an increase in maximum benefits to 50 percent of New York State's average weekly wage.

The bill also would create a wage reporting system that the state Department of Labor considers essential to the successful administration of the system. Forty-eight other states already have such wage reporting systems.

"UI reform has been a top priority of The Business Council this year because we want to reduce the cost of providing jobs," Walsh said. "We're especially pleased with this deal because it is the most significant labor-management agreement in more than a decade," Walsh said.

Walsh praised Gov. George Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and their staffs for their efforts in negotiating their agreement. He also thanked Edward J. Cleary, president of the New York AFL-CIO, which participated with The Business Council in negotiations with legislators that led to the agreement.

The Business Council is New York's largest broad-based business group, representing more than 4,000 member companies large and small across the state. Based in Albany, it lobbies for a better business climate and offers cost-cutting services to its members.

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