By enacting laws, signing executive orders, and making pronouncements on issues that reach into the lives of New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo has distinguished himself by his principles and actions.
On the all-important matter of a living wage, he signed legislation, the Minimum Wage Act, that incrementally raises the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, making New York State a leader on the issue of living wage. To assure gender-neutral marriages, he signed the Marriage Equality Act, an essential measure to ensure equality for New York’s LGBTQ communities.
There is much more to the agenda of New York’s governor. To end gun violence, he inked New York’s Safe Act, a strict ban on assault weapons that increases penalties for people who use illegal guns—the strongest gun safety legislation in America.
His recent executive order on July 9 constituted new actions to protect reproductive rights in the face of federal assault. He also called on the State Senate to vote to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law.
These laws and executive orders, coupled with his commitment to safe staffing levels (details below), demonstrate a profound understanding of the lives of New Yorkers, including our work in hospitals. He has shown our state’s diverse communities that he understands and acts on the pressing need for greater economic equality and the essential roles unions and collective bargaining play in our society.
For these many and important reasons, we endorse Governor Cuomo for re-election.
A commitment to safe staffing
On safe staffing, Governor Cuomo stepped forward to announce his commitment to safe staffing levels for nurses and caregivers at hospitals and nursing homes. He will include a measure for safe staffing in the state budget and make it a high priority early in 2019. This measure will empower the NYS Department of Health to issue regulations on safe staffing, a victory for nurses and other caregivers and the patients we serve. “We know that quality of care,” Cuomo wrote on June 22, 2018, “is directly linked to appropriate staffing levels.”
“Governor Cuomo understands the critical importance of safe staffing standards,” said NYSNA Board Member Judith Cutchin, RN, president, NYSNA’s H+H/Mayorals Executive Council. “The proposed legislation/regulation will give us the protections we need, and, in turn, give patients the safety and quality care they deserve. This is truly a breakthrough for nurses and patients and communities were serve.”
For workforce protections
Also on June 22, Cuomo issued an executive order directing the NYS Department of Labor to “vigorously enforce workforce protections.” Citing work through lunch breaks and additional hours without fair compensation, such as mandatory overtime, his order calls for penalty-pay for nurses.
As reports came in of threatening and coercive behavior during our organizing drive at Albany Medical Center, Governor Cuomo again stepped forward for working people and unions. “New York is a union state,” he said on April 15, 2018, “and we have zero tolerance for any attempts to illegally interfere in the fundamental right to join a union.” In prior weeks, Governor Cuomo had directed the Department of Labor to investigate management’s conduct during our campaign.
These actions helped support the extraordinary work of our organizing team that led to a winning vote by Albany Med nurses. We welcome 2,000 RNs to NYSNA! And we acknowledge the role our governor played in this great achievement.
Also in mid-April, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to strengthen the rights of working men and women in the face of the Janus v. AFSCME decision, now accomplished. The legislation protects union membership in the state’s public sector. Subsequent action taken by the governor protects the privacy of union members and gives additional protection to public sector workers.
To protect reproductive rights
His executive order on July 9, 2018, to protect reproductive rights, was a response to a federal government poised to take continued action against the health of the people. With this order, Governor Cuomo directed two state departments to guarantee women’s access to contraception and medication. “This is the time,” he said, “where every New Yorker has to say, you’re not taking women’s rights to reproductive rights away…. [T]his is the state that has always stood up for what’s right.”
For many months, Governor Cuomo joined forces across the state, including with NYSNA, to make certain that safety net hospitals are protected, again in the face of federal incursion. “Health is a critical priority and this administration will do everything we can to protect … funding and quality care,” said Governor Cuomo.