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PSN on June 12, 2006 - 10:05am
New York Assemblyman (and Progressive States board member) Adriano Espaillat has been doing more than his fair share to stake out a clear progressive agenda on economic issues this year. From passing legislation to extend union protections to home day care workers to sponsoring a bill to hold management accountable for actions that force illegal strikes.
Holding Management Accountable: Along with Senator Nicholas Spano, Espaillat is pushing legislation to hold management accountable for actions undertaken to induce illegal strikes. During last year's transit strike in New York City, reporters and pundits were quick blame workers -- the workers who had the audacity to ask for their retirement benefits to be maintained during a period huge surpluses in the system's budget. The public took a very different view -- 71% blamed management. Only 14% blamed the workers. Espaillat's legislation would put in place financial penalties for irresponsible decisions by management during bargaining. While the New York Post is predictably howling about the idea, the move could prevent future strikes without undercutting worker pay -- that's a win-win.
Extending Labor Protections to 25,000 Workers: Domestic workers are one of the few types of workers not covered by federal labor laws -- giving state legislatures the ability to easily extend union protections to these workers. Assemblyman Espaillat sponsored and passed legislation extending union protections to 25,000 home care workers. The bill was vetoed by the Governor but Espaillat's legislation moved the ball down the field in terms of debating how to best protect the wages, working standards, and dignity of these hard-working Americans.
Reframing the Health Care Discussion: In January, Espaillat worked with Progressive States co-chair David Sirota to reframe the health care discussion. Too often, the discussion in this country is simply over whether government or individuals need to do more to handle health care costs. Espaillat and Sirota took a different approach, asking what would happen if American business's ingenuity was harnessed through regulation to help solve, rather than hinder, America's health care crisis. The idea? Regulations set a minimum benefit and businesses devote their enterpreneurialism to devising strategies to meet the benefit while lowering costs. Basically -- turn Wal-Mart's ingenuity into a force for good.