District 1 Members Help Secure Huge Wins for Working Families in NYS Budget

CWA members in New York have been fighting tooth and nail over the past several months to secure a budget commitment from the New York State legislature that prioritizes working families over corporations and the ultra-rich, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis that has hit our communities hard. With billions of dollars in State funding on the line, CWAers pulled out all the stops to speak with lawmakers, community members, and advocacy groups about our priority issues.

Some highlights of our work:

  • We sent 770 emails to the State Assembly and Senate to demand an end to unbearable fees that SUNY graduate workers (CWA Local 1104/Graduate Student Employees Union members) are forced to pay to SUNY/.

  • We flooded New York lawmaker inboxes with over 1,150 emails calling for a fair New York State budget that increases taxes on the state’s richest ½ of 1% instead of making cuts to essential services that benefit working families.

  • Our New York Budget Canvass Crew, including members of Locals 1101, 1104, 1118, 1120, and 1122, has been working throughout the past several weeks to get the word out to CWA members about the budget issue, speaking by phone with nearly 3,000 people.

  • 451 CWA members called their legislators about the budget.

And yesterday, the final New York State budget was announced - with some HUGE wins for CWA:

  • Increased revenue that will bring in $4.3 billion for our communities and vital services by increasing tax rates for New Yorkers making $1 million, $5 million, and $25 million per year, as well as an increase in the corporate franchise tax.

  • Provisions for our Broadband Data Mapping Bill, passed last year by the Assembly and Senate, which will require the State to study the actual extent of broadband access throughout the state so we can work to fill in gaps in the state’s connectivity.

  • A new, expanded “Broadband Lifeline” program requiring broadband providers $15 a month high speed internet service to an expanded group of low-income New Yorkers.

  • Incentivizing in-state offshore wind-turbine manufacturing to increase production and create more jobs in New York. We are working to get those jobs to the IUE-CWA represented GE factory in Schenectady, NY.

  • Funding for the City University of New York School of Labor and Urban Studies.

  • A record $29.5 billion in school aid.

  • $2.1 billion in aid for workers excluded from federal COVID-19 relief.

  • Funding for nursing home staffing requirements and direction for nursing homes to spend 70% of their revenue on direct care.  

  • Establishing universal Pre-K for all New Yorkers

  • Billions of dollars in rental, homeowner, and small business relief

This is a historic budget that will help our state rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, we had some disappointments along with the victories - we were not able to secure funding in the budget to eliminate SUNY graduate worker fees, and we have not yet reached an agreement on hospital staffing.

But those fights are far from over. We’ve shown that CWA is a powerful union that can help make historic changes for working families. Over the past several years we’ve taken tremendous  strides to build our power with each election cycle, and we’ve seen the payoff with each legislative session. These victories would not have happened without the hard work and advocacy of CWA members, and we’ll always be ready for the next fight!

Marcela Mitaynes speaking with CWA Budget Canvass Crew over Zoom

New York Budget Canvass Crew joined by NY Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes, who took time while participating in a hunger strike fighting for state funding to support workers excluded from COVID relief.

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