A New York labor union on Monday is set to back an expansion of unemployment insurance in the state to include workers who do not currently qualify for aid, many of them undocumented immigrants.
The backing of the "Excluded No More" proposal from Laborers' Local 79 comes as state lawmakers are calling for billions of dollars in aid for excluded workers in the state budget, which is expected to pass later this month.
Last year, state lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to a $2 billion pot of money for workers who did not qualify for federal pandemic assistance. Many of those workers are undocumented residents, and over the last several months officials have called for a permanent version of the excluded workers fund.
"Our message to Governor Hochul and the state legislature is: Let’s get it done," said Mike Prohaska, Business Manager of Laborers’ Local 79. "This common sense bill will ... empower immigrant workers who make up the lion’s share of the nonunion construction workforce in New York."
The union, which represents 10,000 workers in the construction field, also pointed to the potential of the proposal to close a gap between union and non-union contractors while also helping them to organize more freely on the job in addition to filing for unemployment.
"Excluded No More will level the playing field for responsible contractors who support their workers, regardless of immigration status, by paying into workers’ compensation, unemployment and payroll taxes,” Prohaska said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's $216 billion budget proposal unveiled in January included a $3 billion unallocated pot of money. The governor left the door open to the funds being used for a variety of means, including support for undocumented New Yorkers as well as further assistance for tenants and landlords who have struggled financially during the pandemic.