New York State Senate Passes Bill to Protect Public Safety, Union Jobs within Public Utility Work

For Immediate Release: May 23, 2022
Contact: Jahad Carter, [email protected] 

New York State Senate Passes Bill to Protect Public Safety, Union Jobs within Public Utility Work

Legislation Cracks Down on ‘OneTouchMakeReady’ Proposals That Allow Unsafe Contractor Work and Risk Public Safety 

Albany, NY - Today, at a vote of 59-2 the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed S.8919, 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. 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” to pole attachment work.

The “One Touch, Make Ready”(OTMR) rule allows 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. 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.

With S.8919/A.10216, companies would be unable to undermine their contracts with unionized employees and shift work towards cheaper third-party contractors.

"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,” said CWA District One Vice President Dennis Trainor. “S.8919/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. We applaud the NYS Senate for standing with workers and communities and passing this legislation and look forward to seeing this bill come to a vote in the Assembly.” 

“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.”

“Broadband must be considered a right, and the people who work every day to bring internet service into our communities must be protected,” said Senator Michelle Hinchey, who authored the bill. “I’m incredibly proud that my bill to ensure that the PSC cannot override collective bargaining agreements passed the Senate today, ensuring workers have protections for years to come. Thank you, CWA, for your tireless advocacy on behalf of your members, and I’m proud to stand in solidarity with you and our friends in labor in the fight for fair and equitable broadband build-out.”

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