Suffolk Legislature Votes on Worker Status Legislation

A new Suffolk County, New York, law requiring licensed contractors to verify their employees are legal residents was invalidated by a New York State Supreme Court Judge last Monday. Latino advocates say attempts to re-introduce the law would be a disaster for the local economy as well as for both legal and un-documented immigrants.

Judge Ralph Costello of New York Supreme Court ruledthat the bill, IR 1105, was improperly reported out ofcommittee and therefore the vote to approve the bill was invalid. Luis Valenzuela of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance says the proposed law is anti-immigrant, anti-business and unnecessary:

Valenzuela stated

"Laws already exist that .....cover workers eligibility and employers obligation to collect payroll tax, workman's compensation, etc"

Valenzuela says that a climate of fear is driving immigrant workers into the shadows. As a result they are more easily exploited. What is needed is enforcement of existing laws applicable to all workers.

"The way to level the playing field is to make sure that worker protection laws are enforced and that they are applicable to both native born and foreign born workers."

IR 1105 was passed last month by an 8 - 3 vote and signed into law by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy on May28. Prior to the vote Legislator Jay Schneiderman, a Republican of Montauk told opponents of the bill that although it might be offensive to some he could not vote against it.

Schneiderman said "It's difficult to vote against a bill that says you've got to follow the law. It's as if I'm sending the message that it's OK to break the law."

An alternate bill introduced by Suffolk legislator Jon Cooper, a Democrat of Lloyd Harbor, is being considered in committee. The Cooper bill would require licensed contractors to verify they pay workers' compensation insurance, minimum wage and applicable taxes.

From a report broadcast Friday June 6 on WPKN News heard Monday-Friday at 6:30 pm on WPKN 89.5 Bridgeport / WPKM 88.7 Montauk and

UPDATE: Another bill introduced by Jon Cooper which will have the county use the e-verify system in a pilot program was approved by the legislature on Wednesday June 10. Also the legislature voted to challenge the court's ruling on IR1105.

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