Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 14, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Miller Proposes City Workers’ Compensation Report Revamp

Councilmember I. Daneek Miller

City Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Jamaica), yesterday, introduced Introduction 1604, which would amend the law that mandates the publication of the City’s Annual Report of Workers’ Compensation Claims.

The report, itself, is a compilation of all such claims administered by the Law Department on behalf of the City of New York, New York City Health and Hospitals, the Department of Education, City University of New York, and the Board of Elections.

When the City Council enacted Local Law 41 in 2004, it intended for the report to be comprehensive, and provide information that would enable the development of targeted programs to identify and eliminate hazardous workplace conditions.

Instead, the summary contains general data that has been of minimal benefit towards achieving real harm mitigation, and omits other vital data currently collected, such as the nature of an injury, the type or diagnosis of such injury, and a description of how it occurred.

In 2018, municipal employee workers’ compensation claims numbered 18,131. The costs of those claims to City taxpayers amounted to $25 million, including direct and indirect costs for wage replacement, medical treatment, and penalties paid by the City.

The prior year, the City confirmed 18,604 claims.

According to the City Comptroller, the City has spent over $345 million dollars to pay workers that previously suffered injuries and illnesses. At the current rate, these recurring costs would have the City pay more than $2.5 billion over the next decade.

In addition to the omitted data, Introduction 1604 would require the Law Department to report an exhaustive amount of information that identifies injury and illness patterns within specific job titles. It would also compel the City to report annually on its efforts to coordinate with agencies on developing programs to reduce and prevent workplace hazards.

“Too many of our workers have unnecessarily suffered injuries or become sick while performing their jobs,” said Miller. “Intro 1604 is a win for both workers and the City because it provides a foundation to create programs aimed at reducing the suffering of workers and helping the City save tens of millions of dollars in the process.”

Koo Introduces Legislation to Create Transparent Billing Software Task Force

City Council Member Peter Koo

City Council Member Peter Koo (D-Bayside, College Point, Flushing, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone), yesterday, introduced, Intro. 1602, legislation that would create a task force to study the feasibility of using transparent billing software by city agencies to hold vendors accountable for all work done by computer.

Transparent billing software is defined as software designed to permit the user to verify the accuracy of time billed for work performed on a computer, whether through keystroke and mouse event tracking, screenshots or other functions that have an auditing purpose.

The bill comes on the heels of reports of expensive delays, cost overruns and overcharges of several multimillion dollar technology contracts.

“The City of New York has spent billions of dollars on technology contracts, but we have seen too many examples where deliverables are not met, either through costly delays or even outright fraud – as was the case in the infamous CityTime contract that came in 10 times over budget,” said Koo.

“We must increase oversight of these big tech contracts to ensure absolute accountability for delays, cost overruns, overcharges, waste, fraud, and abuse. The creation of a task force is the first step toward understanding how different agencies oversee and audit their contracts and contractors, and it will bring us one step closer to the goal of ensuring all work done by city contractors on computers is monitored, evaluated, and audited.”

Richards Lauds Milk Distribution Center Coming To Queens

City Council Member Donovan Richards

City Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens) yesterday lauded the city council’s approval that Bartlett Dairy, a minority-owned, family-run local business, will develop a 54,000 square foot dairy distribution center on a significant portion of the JFK North Site, one of the largest city-owned manufacturing zoned properties.

Bartlett’s development of the JFK North Site will provide a permanent home for milk distribution within the five boroughs. Currently, milk distribution occurs in New Jersey and the products are then delivered to New York City by truck.

Bartlett has excelled at dairy and dry goods distribution since 1968. The Queens-based company employs approximately 500 people across three locations in Jamaica, Newark and Rochester and delivers dry and perishable goods to schools, hotels, grocery stores, and restaurants, among others.

The new facility will be Bartlett’s New York headquarters. Bartlett’s largest contracts include the New York City Department of Education, the Archdiocese of New York, and Starbucks.

“The return of Bartlett Dairy to Queens is bringing jobs back to the borough where so many workers call home,” said Richards. “With additional opportunities for more jobs and apprenticeships along with the resurfacing of Rockaway Boulevard, stormwater mitigation and an expedited construction timeline for improvements to Baisley Pond Park, this development is an all-around win for Southeast Queens. I’d like to thank Bartlett Dairy, EDC and the entire de Blasio administration for their commitment to good jobs in the outer boroughs.”

Gianaris’ Bill Outlawing Gender Discrimination Passes Senate

State Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced yesterday the Senate passed his legislation (S.3664A) outlawing gender discrimination in disability insurance policies.

Currently, gender is a determinative factor in insurance premiums. Senator Gianaris’ legislation would prohibit insurers from using gender as a tool to determine risk.  Last month, Senator Gianaris met with women small business owners in Long Island City to discuss the bill.

“Small businesses should not be penalized for hiring female employees and this proposal would level the playing field for women in the workplace,” said Gianaris. “The deck is already stacked against women in the job market and I am proud the Senate passed my legislation to make things fairer.”

Gianaris’ legislation bans insurers from charging different rates based on the insured person’s gender. Doctor Disability, a leading brokerage of disability insurance for the medical field, has stated it can cost up to 50% more to insure a female employee than a male.

Small businesses in Queens have said it costs up to three times more to provide this insurance to women than men. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed similar legislation in January.

Vallone Tours Brooklyn Navy Yard

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Member Paul Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone), chair of the Committee on Economic Development  joined council colleagues this week for a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, located along the East River on the Brooklyn waterfront. T

The tour was led by David Ehrenberg, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), a not-for-profit corporation that serves as the developer and manager of the Yard on behalf of the City of New York.

The Yard is undergoing its largest expansion since WWII and is currently home to over 400 businesses employing more than 9,000 people and generating over $2 billion per year in economic impact for the city. The 300-acre area serves as an anchor to New York City’s modern industrial sector. BNYDC’s mission is to create and preserve quality jobs, grow the city’s modern industrial sector and its businesses and connect the local community with the economic opportunity and resources of the Yard.

“On Wednesday afternoon, my Council colleagues and I had the opportunity to tour the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the site of a burgeoning vertical industrial park that, when completed, will create the space to allow 30,000 people to work in the Yard by 2030,” said Vallone. “This manufacturing campus along the East River, once home to the nation’s most storied naval shipbuilding facilities, is currently undergoing a metamorphosis into a major tech, commercial and job development center. I look forward to seeing the Yard’s growth as it continues to forge its identity as Brooklyn’s 21st Century modern manufacturing hub.”