NYS Senate staffers taking steps to unionize
Chris Bragg is reporting for the Times Union a group of state Senate legislative staffers announced last week that they are in the process of forming the New York State Legislative Workers United, or the NYSLWU. The staffers recently delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins requesting support for their efforts to organize their Senate workplaces. "At this stage, our intention is merely to make ourselves known so that we can continue to organize in public without fear of retaliation," the group told Stewart-Cousins. "We look forward to embarking on this process with you, and eventually sitting at the table to collectively bargain for a contract that recognizes the value and level of service we bring to the New York State Legislature."A Stewart-Cousins spokesperson confirmed the letter had been received and that it will be reviewed, The effort in the state Senate follows the successful unionization of the New York City Council staffers, U.S. Congressional staffers, and legislative staffers in Massachusetts. It is unclear whether Senate leadership will voluntarily agree to recognize the union though some members were supportive of the efforts. "Every worker deserves a union, and legislative staff work extraordinarily tough jobs without job security," tweeted Democratic state Sen. Julia Salazar. "I support the state senate staff who are organizing." Legislative jobs do not carry the same civil service protections as many executive branch positions do. While the NYSLWU says Senate staffers are allowed to unionize under the state's Taylor Law, that was questioned last week by Ken Girardin, a fellow at the fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy. He said that unlike staffers in the executive branch, the 1967 law does not authorize legislative employees to collectively bargain. Read the full story in the Times Union.