The negative impact of this legislation, if signed, is not difficult to see:
First, we consistently deal with "prevailing wage" issues, which generally mean that on state jobs (spending of public $$$), workers on the job must be paid a rate set regionally for that occupation by the NYS Department of Labor. In many proposals (i.e. IDA "reform" legislation), "prevailing wage" is a thinly-veiled attempt to shut non-union shops out of the bidding process for state work, but for New York State public works jobs, prevailing wage is the law, and a way of life.
Utility companies, however, are not state entities and do not fall under the prevailing wage requirements of the state. This legislation would identify them as such - the first time that New York has attempted to place that status on private, shareholder-owned companies. Which creates an extremely slippery slope that could likely lead to the state attempting to mandate wages in the private sector. With the economic environment in New York as poor as it is - that's a horrible message to be sending the those employers (job creators) looking to remain, expand or do business in New York, particularly Upstate.
Second is the sheer cost of it. Prevailing wage mandates in Upstate New York typically raise the cost of doing business by 28%. Since it would be utility companies incurring those cost increases on the services they require to operate, the increases would be passed on to the consumers. The state continues to go out of its way to find ways to further burden Upstate's employers.
Here's the refreshing news: the WNY delegation has stood up to this downstate-driven piece of legislation, voting almost unanimously in opposition (the only vote to move the bill forward came from Assemblyman Hoyt). They deserve credit for understanding the issue and the impact it would have here in the Buffalo Niagara region, and for taking that message to Albany.
We will continue to oppose this legislation with the governor's office, part of a collaborative effort among a statewide business community that can't afford to have Albany's hands any deeper in their pockets.