New York State Legislature Passes CWA-Supported Bill to Protect Public Safety, Union Jobs within Public Utility Work

For Immediate Release: June 3, 2022
Contact: Jahad Carter, [email protected] 

New York State Legislature Passes CWA-Supported Bill to Protect Public Safety, Union Jobs within Public Utility Work

Albany, NY - Yesterday, with a vote of 150-0 the New York State Assembly unanimously passed A.10216A, legislation that would require the Public Service Commission to respect current collective bargaining agreements relating to pole attachment work between telecommunications, utility, and cable companies and their employees. Following the Senate’s passage of the legislation in May, the Assembly’s action will now send this bill to the Governor’s desk. The bill’s passage comes at a time when state utility regulation agencies across the country are considering adopting dangerous regulations known as “One Touch, Make Ready” for pole attachment work.

“One Touch, Make Ready” (OTMR) rules allow companies and their contractors to attach new equipment to utility poles or move existing equipment to create space, known as “simple” make-ready work, in a rushed timeframe and without sufficient oversight from utility pole owners. That work is currently done by skilled, properly trained, and experienced employees of communications service providers and electric utility employees, and will remain that way in New York thanks to state legislators. Even so-called “simple” pole attachment work is intricate, and all pole attachment has safety implications. Many utility poles are already overloaded, and if done improperly, pole attachments can cause facility damage, service interruption, and hazardous circumstances for workers and the public.

Under S.8919/A.10216, companies would be prohibited from undermining their contracts with unionized employees in order to shift work towards cheaper third-party contractors.

“We applaud the NYS Assembly for standing with workers and communities by passing this legislation,” said CWA District One Vice President Dennis Trainor. “One Touch, Make Ready sets a dangerous precedent both in terms of breaking the collective bargaining relationship between workers and employers, and lowering safety standards for telecommunications work, putting our communities at risk. S8919/A.10216 puts a stop to this harmful, anti-union regulation and ensures the continued safety and quality of the work, at a time when it's more important than ever to bring broadband to all New Yorkers.”

“I’m thrilled to announce the passage of A10216A/S8919 in the New York State Assembly, which supports the safety and protection of utility workers,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “These employees build and maintain our essential telecommunications infrastructure, which affects virtually every aspect of our lives. This is not an area where we can afford to take chances, and should therefore utilize our most experienced workforce. Utilizing skilled, trained workers for utility pole attachments is also critical to work safety. I thank New York State Senator Hinchey for her staunch advocacy to pass this bill in the Senate and CWA District 1 for their hard work to keep New Yorkers online and connected!”

“The people best suited to do work on utility poles are company employees who are familiar with their equipment and their condition,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “One Touch Make Ready policies not only jeopardize the safety of the employees and the public, but they are also an infringement of the existing collective bargaining agreement between utility companies and their employees. This legislation protects the safety of the workers and the public and those collective bargaining agreements.”

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“New York prides itself on being a union stronghold, understanding that organized labor has gotten us to the incredible heights we are at today,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Senator Hinchey’s bill to recognize collective bargaining agreements among public service employees not only bolsters crucial worker protections but also helps facilitate high-quality services to the people of New York. As unions continue to build up our great state, we in the Senate Democratic Majority are proud to advance legislation that protects their work, livelihoods, and continued contributions to New York.”

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