Protecting and Valuing New York’s Public Workers
My parents both worked in the public sector: my mother was a public school educator and my father worked at a public hospital. I have a deep and abiding respect and admiration for hardworking men and women who decide to pursue a career in the public’s service. Whether you are a high level agency official, an entry-level desk clerk, or anyone in between, the work you do for the public good should be valued and you should be treated with the dignity and compensation you deserve.
As the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, I fight hard to stand up for all public workers, at all levels of government. Here’s just a few of the fights we’ve won together so far:
Honoring our 9/11 Responders
The legacy of 9/11 still lives with us to this day, so many years later, and especially for the men and women who responded in the aftermath of the attacks to help with rescue, recovery, and cleanup at Ground Zero. I’ve passed legislation to ensure that 9/11 responders can take unlimited sick leave to get treated for their 9/11-related illnesses, reform the NYCERS Medical Board to address delays in WTC-related disability claims, extend the period of time for family members to file for death benefits when a 9/11 responder dies from a 9/11-related illness, and provide New York City’s firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer after their retirement the presumption that they were exposed to 9/11 toxins which caused their illnesses.
Protecting Workers During Covid
Once the pandemic struck, it became clear that many of our public workers would remain on the front lines as essential workers. That’s why I authored and passed legislation to ensure that any public worker who died from Covid would be eligible for death benefits. Additionally, my bill to require every public employer to create a pandemic emergency response plan was signed into law by the Governor to ensure that public workplaces are prepared for the next airborne pandemic. And now that vaccines have been successfully proven to help fight the virus, every single employee in our state, public and private, is allowed to take up to four hours of paid leave to get each vaccine shot thanks to legislation I authored.
Ensuring Benefits for our Public Retirees
A big part of the public’s contract with its workers is an acknowledgement that workers might not receive the pay they truly deserve, but in exchange they receive the promise of a guaranteed defined benefit pension. I am proud to continue to fight to strengthen and improve our public pension benefits to make sure that every public worker gets compensated as they deserve.