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Stewart workers cut from bill that would have provided health-care stipends

Jan 05, 2021 5:30 am

Chris McKenna is reporting for the Times Herald-Record Stewart Airport workers have been excluded from a modified bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on New Year's Eve granting health-insurance payments to their counterparts at John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports in New York City. The Healthy Terminals Act, approved by the Senate and Assembly in July, applied to all three airports and would have assured their employees were paid the local prevailing wage for their work, plus grant an hourly stipend that could help pay for health insurance premiums. All three airports are run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But the changes negotiated by the Cuomo administration and finalized on the last day of 2020, removed the prevailing-wage provisions and the Orange County airport was removed entirely from the legislation. State Sen. James Skoufis denounced the removal of the Stewart employees from the final version. He said the administration justified excluding them by telling lawmakers that Stewart employees had a lower living costs than their New York City counterparts, as evidenced by their lower minimum wage. "That makes no sense to me. That's bizarre to me, at best, " Skoufis said. It is unclear how many Stewart employees, who are not represented by a union, would have qualified for the health insurance stipend. Skoufis said it may have applied to "a few hundred workers" employed by contractors such as cleaning and security companies. He called their exclusion "an insult to this region's airport workers." Read the full story in the Poughkeepsie Journal.