Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mandate Relief?

I’m about to step on a lot of toes but the truth must come out if we are to have any chance of survivability. Here’s what’s taking place in New York State, if I understand this correctly (which I think I do) – right now. Governor Cuomo put out a budget calling for a 2% tax cap. Obviously most want a tax reduction but we can discuss that at another time. We were told he would look into the unfunded mandates.  He put together a team to redesign mandate relief and their first shot at it is severely lacking to attack what is plaguing NY. If this team can’t figure that much out - we’re in BIG trouble.

Filled with broad proposals (the time for broad is long gone – we need specifics), the findings prohibit new unfunded mandates (good) and seek ways to limit the unfunded mandates that are passed down to local governments and schools, but not in a significant way.  Their recommendations thus far do not seek repeal of the Wicks Laws. If you’re not familiar with Wicks here’s the skinny: It’s a law that requires multiple contractors on public construction projects. Their proposal does seek some reforms such as eliminating a study requirement for projects and establishing regionally negotiated project labor agreements with the unions but it MUST go farther.

Their report doesn’t even acknowledge the Triborough Amendment at all. THIS IS RIDICULOUS!  This Amendment 100% gives an unfair advantage to unions during labor negotiations by letting them continue step raise increase and longevity increases even when the contract expires.

Recently it was brought to my attention, that as our New York towns are financially sinking many of our Representatives have been backing laws requiring municipalities to pay ‘prevailing wages’.  Now, this is becoming a HUGE problem and here’s why: Suppose a town building needs a roof (many need some type of improvement). By law, any work needed by a municipality or school MUST pay prevailing wage.

Prevailing Wages work like this: (I was sent this example and I’m using it for ease of understanding)

If a union worker works more than 6-8 hours per day (depends on the work title and union) they are entitled to their normal hourly rate plus 1/2 of the hourly rate.
For simplicity say $20.00 per hour and on OT $20.00 plus 1/2 or $30.00 per hour.
The other part of the Prevailing wage is the Benefits portion. These are FIXED Costs like Insurance (Health, Life etc). These rates are constant. They do not change. If a worker works OT he does not have to pay an increase in his Insurance rates. HOWEVER........The Unions are now requiring that the company that hires their men pay double the hourly benefits rate. So if we fix the Benefits rate at $10.00 per hour and use the previous example here is what we have with the old and newly approved Prevailing Wage:

Old   $20.00 HR Wage + $10.00 Benefits = $30.00 per HR normal work day
         $20.00 HR Wage plus 1/2 for OT= $30.00 plus Benefits @ $10.00 = $40.00 HR OT

New   $20.00 HR Wage + $10.00 Benefits = $30.00 per HR normal work day
         $20.00 HR Wage plus 1/2 for OT= $30.00 plus Benefits @ $10.00 x2 = $50.00 HR OT

Okay - Most of this you probably know all that but I’d like to introduce you to A00103.  This Bill fines municipalities which fail to enforce prevailing wage paid by contractors on public works projects 10% of the project costs to be paid to the department of labor for apprenticeship training programs. Sponsored by Michael Montesano (District 15) and co-sponsored by J. Saladino (District 12), G. Finch (District 123),  ROBERT CASTELLI (DISTRICT 89), E. Stevenson (District 79), N. Rivera (District 80), A. Rais (District 9), and M. Miller (District 38) I have to ask just one question – who’s side are these representatives on - The taxpayers or the unions? 
What needs to be done is do away with the requirement for municipalities and schools to do business with the unions! WE CANNOT AFFORD THEM! I know, I was dreaming for a second.
However if Cuomo is serious about addressing the unfunded mandates he better get his team to understand that many of the prevailing wage titles require that the company hiring the worker pay double the benefits portion when working overtime. THIS money is not going into the union workers pocket – it’s going to the unions who in turn contribute to political campaigns. 
Oh wait….NOW I GET IT.