Labor unions this week are urging lawmakers to reject proposals to amend New York's 2019 law that limited the use of cash bail as the late state budget hinges on whether a deal on the issue can be reached.
Hochul wants to end the so-called "least restrictive" provision under the law that could enable judges to require bail under serious criminal charges. A broader state budget agreement has been late by a week over the issue.
On Friday, United Autoworkers Region 9A announced its opposition, writing on Twitter that "we stand against a system which benefits the wealthy, while average working-class people languish in jail, awaiting trial."
The labor union joins District Council 37, the largest municipal workers union in New York City, in opposition to the proposed changes that are being sought by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“Organized labor has officially joined the fight to stop Governor Hochul’s misguided and regressive efforts to gut New York’s successful bail reform law," said Katie Schaffer, the director of advocacy and organizing at the Center for Community Alternatives. "Union members know that good jobs - not separating families and perpetuating cycles of poverty and recidivism - are the foundation of strong and safe communities. We laud UAW for their definitive rejection of Governor Hochul’s proposal, and we urge Senate Majority Leader Andea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and our legislators to reject efforts to jail more New Yorkers without trial and instead invest in real solutions to community safety.”
Supporters of the bail law have argued the measure was necessary in order to address long-standing equity issues in the criminal justice system for low-income defendants. Opponents, however, maintain the measure has had an effect on public safety amid rising crime in New York has also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several Democratic lawmakers this week, though, pointed to concerns facing voters over crime and have called for a judicial discretion component of the law.
Hochul has said she agrees with the intent of the measure, though wants to give judges more clarity. Republicans have called for a repeal of the measure.
"The Assembly Minority Conference has advocated for changes to the state’s bail, parole and criminal justice laws," Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said Friday. "We have maintained that these changes are absolutely necessary for the safety of those living here, and we will continue to push for these changes until they are made."