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Pataki Signs Health Care Union Bill

By Mark Scott

Albany, NY – A new law prevents hospitals and other health care agencies from using public funds to fight union organizing. It was signed into law by Governor Pataki Monday.

The measure builds on a 1996 law, which prevents employers from using taxpayer money to train staff in discouraging unions. The new law further restricts them from hiring anti-union lawyers and consultants.

It requires employers to keep records for three years, as proof taxpayer money was not misused in union-busting activities. \\

Pataki signed the bill at the Empire State Plaza, surrounded by union leaders and members.

"For the first time, if an agency has a policy of not following the state law, they will be penalized," Pataki said. "They will be fined. They will be sanctioned so that the law as teeth.

"The policy of neutrality that we believe in so strongly will, in fact, become the policy that is implemented with state tax dollars in every corner of this state."

The Healthcare Association of New York State, which represents hospitals and nursing homes, claims the law violates the First Amendment right to free speech. It vows to sue if the state fines any of its members.