To All Directors and Legislative Directors:
As you are aware, one of NYSPEC’s most important legislative initiatives in recent years has been the opposition to the New York Health Act, commonly referred to as single-payer healthcare. This legislation, in its current iteration – S5474 (Senator Rivera) / A6058 (Assemblyman Gottfried) – has been getting much press as of late, and rumors abound that it will be passed before the end of session.
Whether the rumors have merit remains to be seen. Nonetheless, we believe it is important to keep up the fight against this significantly flawed measure. As of today, there are 29 sponsors on the senate side and 27 in the assembly; we understand that both sides are actively seeking additional sponsors.
We have written, both via email and snail mail, to many of those sponsors, specifically to those whom we believe to have signed on to the bill for various reasons other than full support of the legislation. Their reasons for signing on as sponsors is unknown, but we suspect that, perhaps, some of them may not fully understand its ramifications. However, in our letter, we outlined our opposition, and specifically asked each of them to re-consider their sponsorship and, further, to respond to our message. We have not received even one response!
At this point, because of the enormous impact that passage of this legislation would have on public employees, we are asking each NYSPEC member unit to issue their own opposition memo. Please send your memo to us so that we may prepare a package to send to appropriate recipients to forestall further movement of the bills in either house. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NYSPEC RECEIVING COPIES OF YOUR OPPOSITION MEMOS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
To that end, I am attaching the NYSPEC support memo in its formal format, and also in MSWord, should you want to cut-and-paste any of the text for your own memo.
Our goal is 100% participation, and, needless to say, time may be of the essence!
Peter D. Meringolo
P.S. After close of business yesterday, and subsequent to the drafting of the above email message for distribution this morning, NYSPEC Legislative Committee Chair Bing Markee received a call from Eric Katz, Deputy Counsel to the Senate Majority, seeking NYSPEC’s position on Senator Rivera’s bill. He indicated that NYSPEC is opposed to the bill, and emailed a copy of the NYSPEC opposition memo. Deputy Counsel Eric Katz wrote the following in response: “Thanks Bing. Can you clarify if any of your members are not signatories of the memo? For example NYSNA [New York State Nurses Association] is a member but is a known supporter, do you have a specific count of which members are also signatories?”
For clarification, here is Bing’s response:
The New York State Public Employee Conference (NYSPEC) decades-long policy with respect to memoranda in support or opposition to legislation requires that all NYSPEC member units must be in favor of supporting or opposing specific (numbered) legislation, and the position of all member units with respect to such to specific legislation is queried before a support or opposition memo is issued. However, if an issue is outlined in our Legislative Agenda, which is published on our website, NYSPEC has the authority to issue such memoranda.
We are aware that NYSNA has expressed support for universal health care, which issue has been a subject of debate for several years at our annual conference. Having said that, I reiterate the fact that, as stated in our opposition memo, NYSPEC is not opposed to the concept of universal health care, but, as encapsulated in the instant legislation, there are far too many unanswered questions. NYSPEC's opposition memo alludes to just one of those unanswered questions, but there are several others, which we can outline should you require elaboration.
Our Legislative Agenda, available for public viewing on the main menu at nyspec.org, in the “We Oppose” section, clearly includes the following bullet point: “Any legislation which circumvents, converts, and/or nullifies hard-fought gains to health care coverage obtained through collective bargaining”. This bullet point has been in our agenda for several years. Indeed, it was not opposed by any member unit, including NYSNA, when it was proffered for inclusion in our 2021 agenda, so, presumably, NYSNA is in sync with all of our other member units in opposition to the specific legislation proposed by Senator Rivera, S5474. Unless and until the unanswered questions in the instant legislation are addressed, we maintain that all NYSPEC member units are in opposition to it.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions/concerns.