November 10, 2011
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
The city’s labor unions were out and about yesterday canvassing different neighborhoods to support candidates who have been supportive of labor. John Spano, Campaign Director for Mike Spano, his brother, said that unlike the previous mayor, Phil Amicone, “Mike wants to give the unions a seat at the table. About eighty percent of Yonkers budget pays for the hard work of teachers, policemen and carpenters. Rather than use scare tactics to close any budget shortfalls, Mike wants to work with the unions to secure a balanced budget.”
At the Polish Center in Yonkers, union members from the District Council of Carpenters, SEIU Local 32BJ, Yonkers Federation of Teachers and the Teamsters began to arrive after work to pick up literature and campaign signs before heading out into the community. Two District Council carpenters handing out literature to rail passengers as they were disembarking from Metro-North trains at the Yonkers station said they were supporting Spano because he had backed legislation that dissuades contractors from paying their workers “off the books.”
That legislation, the Fair Play Act, took effect on October 2010 and creates a new standard for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor in the construction industry, according to the state’s Department of Labor (DOL).
Steve McInnis, Political Director of the NYC District Council of Carpenters, said he and the carpenters union were supporting Spano precisely because of his backing for the Fair Play Act. “The act now places the burden of proof on the contractor to classify workers either as employees or independent contractors,” said McInnis.
DOL notes that anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of construction workers may be misclassified in the state. “The new law will penalize contractors who continue to engage in the old practice of misclassified workers,” noted McInnis. Indeed, DOL reports that employers who violate the Fair Play Act “will be subject to fines of up to $2,500 per misclassified employee for a first violation and up to $5,000 per misclassified employee for a second violation within a five-year period.”
John Spano said that the first order of business for the new Yonkers mayor will be to get a firm handle of the budget numbers as the previous mayor reported different amounts during the current fiscal year to “scare the unions into accepting concessions.” The campaign director also said that Mike’s strong advantage in the race is his record of working closely with Albany. “After Mike gets in office in January and conducts a budget review, he’ll have the benefit of working with Albany if there’s a budget deficit.”
On the first order of economic business come January, John Spano said his brother may consider streamlining Yonkers Office of Economic Development, which consists of three different entities, the downtown development, waterfront development and planning departments.
John deferred to his brother any questions about which economic policies for job growth Mike will pursue.