A coalition of labor unions on Thursday called for the passage of a bill meant to seal many criminal records in New York, endorsing a criminal justice law change that has been a priority for advocates and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The bill, known as the Clean Slate Act, has been backed by District Council 37, 1199 SEIU, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, Mason Tenders’ District Council, Laborers’ Local 79, and New York State Nurses Association in a letter to the governor and the top Democrats in the state Legislature.
The measure stalled last year at the conclusion of the legislative session. Proponents have argued its approval would make it easier for people with criminal convictions who have completed their sentences to be employed and obtain housing.
"Not only will this legislation make a significant and positive change in the lives of millions of New Yorkers currently held back from accessing vital employment, housing and other opportunities due to a past conviction record, it will combat poverty and promote labor equity and economic justice statewide," the unions wrote in the letter.
The measure is estimated to affect more than 2.3 million New York residents with criminal convictions.
"Despite having served their sentences and returned to our shared communities, many live in a state of perpetual punishment because of their records: they are denied the jobs they need to support themselves, the homes they need to live securely with their families, and the educational and occupational licensing opportunities they need to progress," the letter states. "By automatically sealing eligible conviction records, the Clean Slate Act will help to drastically reduce the barriers these New Yorkers face, in turn boosting our state’s workforce and economy at large."