Highlights of labor and workforce accomplishments, 2024 goals
From NY Governor Kathy Hochul,
2024 Budget Included Historic Plan to Increase New York’s Minimum Wage and Index to Inflation, Nation-Leading Initiative to Offer 12 Weeks of Fully Paid Parental Leave to More Than 150,000 State Employees
Other Major Accomplishments Include Increased Wages and Benefits, Expanded Training and Workforce Development Opportunities, and Strengthened Worker Protections
Governor Kathy Hochul today highlighted New York’s labor and workforce accomplishments in celebration of Labor Day. Governor Hochul has worked diligently to enact a nation-leading worker agenda, including: historic plans to increase New York’s minimum wage and index it to inflation, offering 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave to more than 150,000 state employees, and other initiatives to increase wages and benefits, expand prevailing wage, connect job seekers to employment opportunities, and help ensure retirement security for private sector workers. The Governor has also continued an aggressive crackdown on wage theft and advanced new initiatives to protect workers from discrimination, harassment, abuse, and the dangers of COVID-19 in the workplace; secure major labor benefits on transformative New York projects; and distribute grants through the new Office of Strategic Workforce Development to create training opportunities for all New Yorkers.
“New York workers are not only the engines behind our economy – they’re the teachers who educate our children, the law enforcement who protect our communities, the construction workers who take our state to new heights, and so much more,” Governor Hochul said. “On Labor Day, we honor the tremendous gains of the American organized labor movement and the ongoing fight for workers’ rights and protections as we reaffirm our commitment to fair wages, health care, and dignity and respect for all workers. The union card continues to be a powerful symbol that has helped lift millions of New York families, including my own, out of poverty, and my administration will continue making sure all New Yorkers have the benefits and opportunities they need and deserve.”
Governor Hochul has been a longtime supporter of New York’s labor unions and remains committed to supporting New York workers. The Governor has taken the following actions to support, protect, and train workers in the past year, building on major labor and workforce accomplishments from last year:
Improving Wages and Benefits
- Increasing and Indexing Minimum Wage. Governor Hochul announced the FY 2024 Budget included a transformative plan to help low-wage New Yorkers keep up with the rising cost of living by increasing New York’s minimum wage for three years and then tying future increases to inflation. On January 1, 2024, the minimum wage will increase to $16 in NYC and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, and to $15 in all other parts of the State. In 2025 and 2026, the minimum wage will increase by an additional $0.50 in each year, after which the State’s minimum wage would increase at a rate determined by the CPI-W for the Northeast Region.
- Prevailing Wage for Construction Workers. In August 2023, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.4887/A.5608) enacting the Roadway Quality Assurance Act, strengthening New York’s construction workforce by ensuring they are paid the prevailing wage.
- Ratification of Labor Agreement with UUP. In August 2023, Governor Hochul announced the ratification of a four-year labor agreement with the United University Professions, which includes over 37,000 SUNY system faculty and professional employees. The ratified contract includes raises in each year of the agreement consistent with other recently negotiated agreements. In addition, the contract includes other increases in compensation such as a lump sum bonus and up to 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave.
- Ratification of Labor Agreement with PEF. In July 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the ratification of a three-year labor agreement with the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF), which includes over 51,000 New York State employees. The ratified contract includes raises in each year of the agreement of 3 percent. In addition, the contract includes other increases in compensation such as a one-time lump sum bonus of $3,000 and up to 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave.
- Expansion of Nation-Leading Fully Paid Parental Leave. In June 2023, Governor Hochul announced the expansion of New York’s nation-leading initiative to offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave benefits to more than 80 percent of the state workforce, fulfilling her State of the State commitment.
- Gender Wage Gap Report. In March 2023, Governor Hochul announced the release of a new report from the NYS Department of Labor on the State’s gender wage gap. The report revisits findings from DOL’s 2018 study on the issue, while also examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the key factors that traditionally are associated with the gender pay gap and makes several policy recommendations aimed at addressing the pervasive issue.
- Farm Laborers Wage Board. In February 2023, The Department of Labor officially adopted the final farm labor overtime regulations, codifying Commissioner Reardon’s order that adopted the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s report and recommendations in September. The regulations lower the current 60-hour threshold for overtime pay to 40 hours per week by January 1, 2032, allowing 10 years to phase in the new threshold. Governor Hochul and the Legislature have taken significant steps to assist farm employers during the transition, including increasing the Investment Tax Credit from 4 percent to 20 percent for farm businesses and establishing a new refundable overtime tax credit for overtime hours paid by farm employers at the level established by the Board and confirmed by the Commissioner up to 60 hours.
- Salary Transparency. In December 2022, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.9427-A/A.10477) establishing a statewide pay transparency law in New York State, requiring employers to list salary ranges for all advertised jobs and promotions.
- Increasing Minimum Wage for Upstate New Yorkers. In December 2022, Governor Hochul announced the State will continue with the $15 minimum hourly wage phase-in, increasing the minimum wage in upstate counties from $13.20 to $14.20 effective December 31.
- Increased Minimum Wage for Home Care Workers. The FY2023 Enacted Budget includes $7.7 billion over four years to increase the home care worker minimum wage by $3. The minimum wage increase took effect in October 2022 and will be annually increased and indexed beginning January 1, 2024.
- Distribution of $2.1 Billion in Excluded Worker Funds. Under Governor Hochul, New York State has distributed more than $2 billion to over 128,000 residents through the first-in-the-nation Excluded Workers Fund, providing a critical lifeline for many of the state’s most vulnerable workers during the pandemic.
- Pay Increases for Nurses. In October 2022, Governor Hochul announced a series of pay increases for nurse positions within New York State agencies to help improve recruitment and retention among the state’s healthcare workforce, bringing the starting salary of registered nurses working the day shift to nearly $90,000 upstate and $108,000 downstate when coupled with pay differentials. The pay increases will benefit approximately 6,500 New York State employees located across 15 State agencies.
Expanding Opportunities for Employment and Training
- Connecting Asylum Seekers. In August 2023, Governor Hochul announced a program that will greatly expand the State’s ability to help asylum seekers quickly gain lawful employment and directed the NYS DOL to help connect asylum seekers to employment opportunities so they can begin working immediately after obtaining federal work authorization.
- NYS Pathways in Technology. In July 2023, Governor Hochul announced $31.5 million in funding for the NYS Pathways in Technology Program that will prepare thousands of New York students for high-skill jobs of the future in technology, manufacturing, health care, and finance.
- Third Round of Office of Strategic Workforce Development Grants. In June 2023, Governor Hochul announced the Office of Strategic Workforce Development awarded nearly $11 million in grants to seventeen projects across the state through the third round of the Workforce Development Capital and Pay for Performance Grant Programs. These grants will support the training of close to 2,500 workers through collaboration between training providers and more than 100 employer partners.
- Strengthening New York’s Health Care Workforce. In May 2023, Governor Hochul signed legislation (A3076-A/S447-C) into law, strengthening New York’s health care workforce by permitting nursing students to complete up to one third of their clinical training through simulation experiences.
- Offshore Wind Training and Workforce Development. In May 2023, Governor Hochul announced $4 million in grants awarded from the Offshore Wind Training Institute to SUNY campus-led programs designed to prepare students for careers in this growing industry.
- Summer Youth Employment Program. In May 2023, Governor Hochul announced more than $47.1 million will be available to support NYS’ Summer Youth Employment Program this year, helping an estimated 18,500 young New Yorkers gain valuable experience in the workforce.
- Digital Literacy Program. In May 2023, Governor Hochul announced the NYS Department of Labor is launching a new, free digital literacy program to help job seekers gain the skills they need to be more marketable to employers.
- Youth Jobs Connector. The FY 2024 Budget establishes a Youth Jobs Connector program to provide robust educational support and job training to unemployed and underemployed young people ages 16 to 24 and prepare them for the job market. The program will offer job readiness training and placement services, career counseling, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships and other meaningful opportunities to help young people find work.
- CUNY Apprenticeship Offerings. In April 2023, Governor Hochul announced a $2 million State investment to add 12 apprenticeship programs at CUNY for its associate degrees starting in the Fall 2023 semester. The additions build on the five existing apprenticeship programs embedded within CUNY associate degree programs in software engineering, consulting, finance, risk management and cybersecurity.
- CUNY Students Participating in Spring Internships. In March 2023, Governor Hochul announced a $4 million state-funded internship program that offered employers the chance to hire qualified City University of New York students at no cost, placing 600 CUNY students in small businesses, tech startups, non-profits, corporations, and government agencies for the spring semester.
- Second Round of Office of Strategic Workforce Development Grants. In March 2023, Governor Hochul announced the Office of Strategic Workforce Development awarded more than $7 million in grants to fourteen projects across the state through the second round of the Workforce Development Capital and Pay for Performance Grant Programs. These grants will support the training of more than 3,700 workers through collaboration between training providers and more than 100 employer partners.
- GO SEMI. In the 2023 State of the State, Governor Hochul announced GO SEMI: the Governor’s Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration. GO SEMI will lead and centralize efforts to implement the Micron project; develop and advance policies to attract the semiconductor industry and its supply chain; coordinate workforce development and community investments between local, state, federal, and private partners; lead efforts to create, attract and retain the highly skilled workforce needed; and support cohesive development focused on smart growth principles. The FY 2024 Budget makes $45 million available to GO SEMI.
- Community Training and Career Centers. In the 2023 State of the State, Governor Hochul announced the transformation of DOL Career Centers into “Community Training and Career Centers,” with additional professional skills trainers that provide unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers with no-cost training in high-need areas such as digital and financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
- EOC Partnership. In the 2023 State of the State, Governor Hochul directed DOL and SUNY to establish new and innovative partnerships between Career Centers and EOCs. Leveraging each asset’s unique strengths, this integrated approach will allow New Yorkers to seamlessly access a wide spectrum of job preparedness services at no cost. This will enhance the proven DOL Career Center model while supplementing its services with SUNY’s robust training arm, which can pivot in real-time to best meet the needs of businesses and provide immediate access to tuition-free training for job seekers.
- First Round of Office of Strategic Workforce Development Grants. In December 2022, Governor Hochul announced the Office of Strategic Workforce Development awarded more than $6 million in grants to eight projects across the state through the first round of the Capital and Pay for Performance Grant Programs. These grants will support the training of nearly 3,000 workers through collaboration between training providers and more than 100 employer partners.
- Micron Commitments. In October 2022, Governor Hochul announced unprecedented investments in New York’s workforce secured as part of the Micron deal, including: the creation of the $500 million Green CHIPS Community Investment Fund focused on supporting workforce development and other community needs; a Project Labor Agreement between Micron and local trade unions; the construction of a new cleanroom at Onondaga Community College; direct support for Helmets to Hardhats, Pathways to Apprenticeships, and other proven workforce programs; ambitious veteran hiring targets; as well as other investments in local educational and training programs.
- Empire State Teacher Residency Program. In October 2022, Governor Hochul announced the $30 million Empire State Teacher Residency Program through the Department of Labor. The program will provide matching funding for local public school districts and/or Boards of Cooperative Educational Services to create two-year residency opportunities for graduate-level K-12 teacher candidates. Awards began on in September 2023.
- Virtual Career Center Expansion. In September 2022, Governor Hochul announced the expansion of the Department of Labor’s Virtual Career Center, granting access to all job seekers regardless of employment status.
- Diversity in Medicine. In October 2022, Governor Hochul announced the State has doubled its investment in diversity programs managed by the Associated Medical Schools of New York to help bring more traditionally unrepresented students to the physician workforce, committing more than $2.4 million in state funding.
- Mental Health Workforce Loan Repayment. In November 2022, Governor Hochul announced $9 million in state funding for a loan repayment program to help community mental health agencies recruit and retain psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners.
Strengthening Workers Protections
- Protection of Undocumented Workers During Labor Investigations. In July 2023, Governor Hochul announced the NYS Department of Labor has implemented a new process to shield undocumented immigrant workers from retaliation and removal during labor disputes, expanding on the protections implemented earlier in the year by the Biden administration.
- Progress in Crackdown on Child Labor Violations. In June 2023, Governor Hochul announced progress in NYS’ multipronged effort to protect children in the workforce. The Governor unveiled NYS DOL’s new online child labor complaint form and online child labor hub.
- Sexual Harassment Model Policy. In April 2023, Governor Hochul announced the NYS Department of Labor finalized updates to the State’s Sexual Harassment Model Policy, a template document NYS provides to employers to help them comply with State laws and access state-of-the-art policies on sexual harassment and related topics to protect employees in the workplace.
- Combatting Child Labor Violations. In March 2023, Governor Hochul announced new efforts to combat child labor violations and labor trafficking in NYS, including: launching a new interagency Child Labor Task Force, extending the public education digital campaign that NYS DOL began in January, encouraging employers to take a pledge to protect youth workers, and creating a new Anti-Trafficking Unit under NYS DOL’s Division of Immigrant Policies & Affairs.
- Registration System for Public Work Contractors. In December 2022, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.5994C/A.1338C) establishing a registration system for contractors and subcontractors engaged in public work and covered private projects in order to provide additional transparency and better enforce existing labor laws and regulations.
- Carlos’ Law. In December 2022, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.621B/A. 4947B) to amend the New York State Penal Law to increase the penalties for criminal corporate liability for the death or serious physical injury of an employee, a felony or misdemeanor, by a fine of up to $500,000.
- Warehouse Worker Protection Act. In December 2022, Governor Hochul signed the Warehouse Worker Protection Act (S. 8922/A. 10020), which will protect warehouse distribution workers from undisclosed or unlawful work speed quotas, and includes protections for workers who fail to meet unlawful quotas. The Act took effect in June 2023.
- Unemployment Fraud Crackdown. In September 2022, Governor Hochul announced actions to crack down on unemployment insurance fraud after a New York State Department of Labor investigation found that insurance fraud accounted for more than $11 million in benefits payments in August. Based on this investigation, the Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations is on pace to uncover $110 million in fraudulently attained benefits in 2022.
- Breastfeeding in the Workplace. In December 2022, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.4844-B/A.1236-A) to expand accommodations for breastfeeding in the workplace, requiring all New York employers to ensure that pumping spaces are convenient and private, as well as include seating, access to running water and electricity, and a working space. The legislation took effect in June 2023.
- Supporting 9/11 Victims, First Responders, and Their Loved Ones. In September 2022, Governor Hochul signed five pieces of legislation to provide support to 9/11 victims and survivors and their families, including S.6810/A.7425, S.6812/A.7426, S.9370/A.9922A, and S.9294A/A.10416, which help to remove barriers and delays from Victim Compensation Fund and workers’ compensation claims.
Other Major Accomplishments
- Interagency Small Business Tour. In May 2023, Governor Hochul announced the launch of a new small business outreach effort, led by the NYS Department of Labor, to help connect entrepreneurs to no-cost supports and services. The Tour will begin in June and stop in Utica, Troy, Buffalo, and Rochester.
- WARN Act Portal. In March 2023, Governor Hochul announced plans to launch the new Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act Portal. This upgraded online tool will give businesses the ability to file notice of layoffs in a faster, more streamlined manner and will provide workers more time to transition into new employment. Governor Hochul also announced changes to the WARN Act regulations to address the post-pandemic employment climate and help ensure compliance of the NYS WARN Act.
- Small Business 24/7 Portal. In the 2023 State of the State, Governor Hochul directed the Department of Labor to lead an effort to upgrade and expand the existing Business Express website into a new, user-friendly portal designed to assist small businesses in accessing the information they need to start or grow their business in New York State.
- Inclusive Internship Coordinator. In the 2023 State of the State, Governor Hochul directed a full-time coordinator in the Department of Labor to connect people with disabilities to inclusive internships with State agencies aimed at leading to stable, long-term employment. This will provide critical experience for people with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce and will advance the State’s efforts to become a model employer.
- Apprenticeship Month. In November 2022, Governor Hochul issued a proclamation declaring November as New York State Apprenticeship Month.