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N.Y. AFL-CIO Calling on Governor to Sign Workplace Violence Bills

In a letter to the editor of the New York Legislative Gazette, Denis M. Hughes, president of the New York State AFL-CIO called on Gov. George Pataki to sign the Workplace Violence Prevention bill S. 6441/ A.9691.

Last year, Pataki vetoed the Workplace Violence Prevention bill based on technical objections. This year, the bill was revised to respond to the governor's concerns and has passed both houses of the N.Y. legislature

"No one should fear going to work," said Hughes. "No one should expect to be punched, kicked or spit upon. Yet, every year, thousands of public employees are assaulted at work by clients in their care or for whom they are providing services. In some cases these assaults cause career-ending injuries. "

Hughes noted that PEF and CSEA, two of the AFL-CIO's largest public sector affiliates, have been campaigning to pass legislation to prevent workplace violence.

A second bill, the Workplace Injury Disclosure and Accountability bill, also has passed the legislature. It requires the Department of Civil Service to publish an annual report on workers' compensation injuries and costs for all state employees. Such a report was published from 1987-1992.

The cost in workers' compensation and related costs is estimated to be more than $125 million in state facilities alone. Additional costs include overtime, retraining, loss of expertise and administrative costs. Moreover, workplace violence disrupts operations, interfering with the mission of public agencies.

"The impact of workplace violence is no less than that of violence in the community: the victims and their families suffer the same kind of pain and trauma," Hughes asserted. "Street crime damages affected communities. Workplace assaults damage the workplace community co-workers and other clients/patients.

"As a society, we require basic minimum standards to prevent illegal activity such as speeding on the interstate or assaulting someone in a bar. Shouldn't the same crime prevention efforts extend to the public workplace? " Hughes questioned.

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