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Update the social contract to protect all workers



social contract to protect all workers

A more human-centered approach to work could create a more equitable world, according to a wide range of experts who gathered at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ new Manhattan hub Jan. 31 to discuss the “Work for a Brighter Future” landmark report recently published by the International Labour Organization.

A dramatic shift in the global workplace, where technology is both eliminating and creating jobs, must be met with decisive action by governments, employers and worker organizations in order to create a social contract that includes all workers, even the most vulnerable, the report said.
Work that guarantees economic security and opportunities for all is achievable, but requires collaboration among government, business and education, according to many of the panelists, who addressed around 100 people in ILR’s new New York City headquarters at 570 Lexington Ave.

A human-centered agenda for work’s future, according to the report, would revolve around increasing investment in areas such as lifelong learning, gender equality, the rural economy, living wages, worker safety, collective representation, management of technology for decent work and a social protection system supporting people over the course of their lives.

The launch event continues a decades-long relationship between ILR and the International Labour Organization, which is celebrating its 100th year with the report.

ILR Interim Dean Alex Colvin said the post-World War II social contract between employers and workers has been fundamentally disrupted in the past two decades. But the report offers hope that investment in worker capabilities and the creation of new institutions could advance an agenda of social justice, he said.

Richard Samans, World Economic Forum managing director, said the report embraces an inclusive model of economic growth while offering a practical rendering of what that would look like. The report lays out a framework to upgrade the social contract through improved access to education and other resources.

Placing people at the center of economic policy would be a startling departure from the current model, Samans said. “The world needs a new engine of growth and development. Investing in people can provide it,” he said.

Damian Grimshaw, director of the International Labour Organization Research Department, pointed to the importance of the informal economy, which includes workers such as street vendors, home care workers and Uber drivers, in both developed and undeveloped countries.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Diana Florence spoke about reckless behavior by construction contractors that dissolves the social contract and results in worker injuries.

Diane Burton, associate professor of human resources in the ILR School and an entrepreneurship scholar, said policymakers should look to cities and states as sources of experimental policies aimed at creating an improved future for work.

Panelists also represented the Ford Foundation, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the National Taxi Workers Alliance, Barclays Capital, Global MindED, The World Bank, the AFL-CIO, Fordham University and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.


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31 NY airports splitting $23.6M from state for upgrades




airport new york

More than two dozen airports statewide are splitting $23.6 million in infrastructure funding provided by New York state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state funding has been awarded to 31 airports to support safety enhancements and modernization efforts. The Democrat says the funds come from an aviation grant program that complements an upstate airport revitalization competition that has provided $200 million in state funding.

The latest round of funding will be used to build new airplane hangars and fuel facilities, improve safety and security, and expand vehicle parking facilities.

The funding is going to airports in the Albany area, central New York, Finger Lakes region, Long Island, Mid-Hudson region, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and western New York.


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New York City lied to FEMA about vehicles damaged in Hurricane Sandy, agrees to pay $5.3 million




thousands of vehicles damaged

A hurricane of lies about city-owned Department of Transportation vehicles supposedly damaged by Superstorm Sandy has resulted in a $5.3 million settlement with the feds.

The agreement between New York City and federal prosecutors was revealed in papers filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court. After the October 2012 storm that killed 43 people and caused $19 billion in property damage, FEMA offered federal money to replace damaged city-owned vehicles.

In 2014, a DOT deputy commissioner, who was not identified in papers, certified a list of 132 vehicles the agency claimed were wrecked by the apocalyptic flood. But in reality, many of the vehicles had been out of commission for years, papers show.

Some of the vehicles on the list — which included passenger cars, heavy equipment and commercial vehicles — had been “junk for years,” a DOT employee wrote the deputy commissioner.
FEMA would not have agreed to pay NYCDOT any of these funds had it known that the certifications were false and that many of the vehicles listed…were ineligible,” prosecutors wrote.
In one example, DOT sought $3 million for seven street pavers that had been designated for salvage years before Sandy.

Of those seven, the agency reported to the NYPD in 2009 that five paving machines “are sitting under the highway in the dump for seven years and were being pick(ed) apart by vandals stealing brass fittings, copper wire harnesses and anything else they could sell for scrap,” according to papers.
Nevertheless, DOT sought FEMA money to replace the pavers.

In another example, the city sought FEMA money for a trash pump and trailer, though both were taken out of service in 2010.

The settlement between the city and federal prosecutors requires the approval of a federal judge. The $5.3 million settlement includes the city relinquishing a claim to $1 million it expected to receive from FEMA.

The agreement notes that the city and DOT “did not undertake a sufficient review” of the list of damaged vehicles. The DOT deputy commissioner also “lacked personal knowledge” sufficient to sign off on the list.

“FEMA serves a critical role in providing emergency relief to those who are tragically struck by disaster. When people lie to FEMA about the cause of property damage in order to reap a windfall, it compromises FEMA’s ability to provide financial assistance to legitimate disaster victims in desperate need,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.

The DOT on Wednesday said it had taken steps to “reduce the risk of this ever happening again.”
“In 2016, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District alerted DOT that reimbursement claims submitted by the agency to FEMA included damaged vehicles that may not have been eligible for reimbursement. We cooperated fully with the subsequent review, and worked together to reach an amicable settlement,” the agency said in a statement.

“As a result of the joint review, NYC DOT has already instituted stronger procedures to reduce the risk of this ever happening again, including a new grants compliance officer and a centralized, comprehensive tracking system for the agency’s thousands of fleet vehicles.”

The nonprofit National Insurance Crime Bureau estimated that 230,000 insurance claims for vehicle damage were made as a result of the storm.

Sandy left cars tossed across Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, Queens. In lower Manhattan, cars were piled on top of each other in underground parking decks. Close to 20,000 damaged cars were stored on a tarmac in Calverton, L.I.


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Germany: Taxis denounce Transport Ministry’s deregulation plans




uber germany

Conservative Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) wants to make it easier for companies like Uber to offer their services in Germany and traditional taxi companies aren’t happy about it.

Uber first launched in Germany in 2014, but a string of court rulings and the country’s restrictive transportation laws have limited it and similar companies from offering their ride-hailing services.

In a white paper published on Monday, the Transport Ministry proposed legal changes to inject more competition into the transportation sector.

Chief among them is scrapping a rule that requires private hire drivers to return to a headquarters after every drop-off. The “obligation to return” — which doesn’t apply to taxi drivers — also forbids ride-hailing drivers from accepting new customers during the ride back.
The paper also proposes getting rid of a ban on pooling, which would allow ride-hailing drivers to pick up and drop off additional customers who are traveling on the same route.

Taxis worry about ‘existence’

The Association of German Taxis and Rental Car Services (BZP) quickly denounced the plans as “unilaterally in favor of Uber and other similar services at the expense of taxis.”

BZP’s managing director, Thomas Grätz, told the DPA news agency that changes to the “obligation to return” rule would threaten the sector’s “very existence.”

The association said it would hold a demonstration against the changes in front of the Transport Ministry building in Berlin on Thursday.

Dieter Schlenker, the chief executive of Taxi Deutschland, a cooperative, said the changes could lead to more New York City-style congestion in major German cities.
Consumers want ‘flexibility’

Germany’s leading consumer group, the Voice of the Consumer (vzbv), has welcomed the changes, saying they would inject “flexibility” into the German transportation market.

“The taxi industry and public transport services do not adequately meet the changing demands of consumers,” vzbv expert Marion Jungbluth told the Handelsblatt newspaper.

Any changes should however protect the consumer and the employees of new transportation services, she said.

The coalition government of conservatives (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) is expected to discuss the white paper and publish a full proposal in the next several months.

The parties agreed to reform the sector in their coalition agreement last year. Many lawmakers see a precedent for reform in the 2013 liberalization of the long-distance bus sector.


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