• Resolution Calling for the Divestment of Public Employee Pensions from Fossil Fuel Investments


    Resolution Calling for Divestment of Public Pensions from Fossil Fuels

    Whereas, scientists agree that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of climate change and climate change presents an existential threat to humanity; and

    Whereas, public pensions are meant to provide a secure future for workers and investments in fossil fuel companies are antithetical to this purpose; and

    Whereas, a failure to acknowledge the existential threat posed by fossil fuels and investment in theses funds will expose pension funds to great financial risk; and 

    Whereas, there will be no financial security on a dead planet; and

    Whereas, the fossil fuel industry poses an existential threat to everyone’s future and continued investment in fossil fuels is immoral and an unacceptable financial risk; and 

    Whereas, over 1200 institutions and public governments, including New York City and the New York State Common Retirement Fund, have completed or are implementing commitments to divest from fossil fuel pension funds; and

    Whereas, the traditional energy sector has been among the worst performers in the S&P 500 over the past decade and investment in fossil fuels has cost New Yorkers billions of dollars; and 

    Whereas, the New York State Pension Fund (the 3rd largest in the country) is in the process of shifting to an investment portfolio with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040; and 

    Whereas, the New York State Pension Fund has already divested from 22 coal companies; and 

    Whereas, not all public employee pension funds have signaled intent to divest from fossil fuel based investments; and

    Whereas, there are no existing legal or fiduciary duties that require pension funds to invest in energy sources that are harmful to the environment and there are better performing investment options that do not present such harms; and therefore 

    BE IT RESOLVED, that the Troy Area Labor Council (AFL-CIO) strongly supports all efforts that aim to divest public pensions out of fossil fuels and into more sustainable and life preserving investment funds; and 

    BE IT RESOLVED, that the Troy Area Labor Council (AFL-CIO) calls upon its local elected officials, affiliates, delegates, the Capital District Area Labor Federation, and the NYS AFL-CIO to work the machinery of their organizations to organize and mobilize to make the divestment of public pension funds away from the death spiral of fossil fuels a reality. 

    The resolution passed unanimously.

  • Resolution Calling on President Joe Biden to Cancel All Student Debt By Executive Order

    At its January 2022 regular meeting, the Troy Area Labor Council adopted this resolution.

    Whereas, the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, recognizes our obligation to “responsibly serve the interests of all the American people”; and

    Whereas, 58% of New York residents have student loan debt, with the average student loan debt for being $31,155; and

    Whereas, student loan debt cuts across all levels of education, and affects borrowers who attend vocational school, technical school, beautician schools, two-year associate degree programs, four-year undergraduate programs, graduate school, state schools, community college, private colleges and universities, and for-profit schools, as well as people who began a program of further education but did not finish; and

    Whereas, across the country, women, and Black women in particular, are disproportionately affected by the two trillion dollar crisis of student loan debt; and 

    Whereas, twenty years after taking out student loans, the average white borrower has paid off 94% of their student loan debt while the average Black borrower still owes 95% of their student loan debt; and

    Whereas, “research estimates that canceling student debt would boost the national economy by up to one hundred and eight billion dollars a year and create a million jobs”; and

    Whereas, one in five people responsible for paying off a student loan is over the age of 50, and older Americans can be subject to Social Security garnishment if they fall behind on their debt; and

    Whereas, education is a right that should be accessible to all and not a commodity that should anchor families with debt for generations; and 

    Whereas, the Higher Education Act of 1965 gives the president of the United States the power to cancel all student loan debt by executive order.

    Therefore, be it resolved that the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, calls on President Joe Biden to cancel all student loan debt immediately by signing an executive order, which he can do using the Compromise and Settlement powers of the Department of Education; and

    Be it further resolved that the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on Governor Kathy Hochul, Senators Charles “Chuck” Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Paul Tonko, Representative Antonio Delgado, our state representatives, state senators, mayors, city and town councilors, and school board officials in Troy and Rensselaer County to call upon President Joe Biden to cancel all student loan debt immediately by signing an executive order; and 

    Be it finally resolved that the Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, calls on the Capital District Area Labor Federation, NYS AFL-CIO, and the national AFL-CIO, its affiliated unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States to tell President Joe Biden to cancel all student loan debt immediately by signing an executive order.

  • Rejecting Its Endorsement, Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO Withdraws Support for Councilmember Sue Steele’s Reelection

    Last week, the Troy Area Labor Council (TALC), AFL-CIO announced its 2021 endorsements for candidates across Troy and Rensselaer County in the upcoming general election. Its support for Councilmember Sue Steele’s reelection was conditioned. Given widespread public opposition to the proposed development of 1011 Second Ave in the Lansingburgh section of Troy, TALC urged her to finally respect the clear democratic will and finally work to stop this project from moving forward.

    Councilmember Sue Steele refused, outrageously casting TALC’s conditions as “extortion” and stating she refuses to be “hijacked.” Accordingly, TALC has accepted Sue Steele’s rejection of our endorsement.

    Adam Pelletier, TALC president and American Federation of Government Employees Local 3343 member, said, “Unfortunately, Sue Steele decided to reject our endorsement. Accordingly, we withdraw our endorsement and support for her reelection. We understand some prominent local Democrats are disappointed we conditioned our support. We will not apologize for having expectations for our endorsees to support policies and legislation that benefit working people. That has and always will always be the expectation of our endorsed candidates. No politician is owed an endorsement.”

    Initially, TALC was prepared to endorse Steele. During our first interview, we were impressed, particularly with her vote against the expansion of the city’s police force. However after our initial interview, she threw her support behind the 1011 Second Ave development despite universal outcry. She took an activist position by voting for the city council to become lead agency on a proposal that was dead and had been rejected by the planning commission. We invited her back for a second interview for her to explain why she voted against the popular will of Troy residents. We were unsatisfied with her answers. We were particularly disturbed by her claim that building more high rent apartment units near a working class section of the city is a form of diversification.

    Gentrification is not diversification. Gentrification has and continues to dramatically raise the cost of living in Troy and increasingly price working people out of their homes. Supporting these developments is explicitly anti-worker. We gave Councilmember Sue Steele an opportunity to reverse course and stand with working people. She made her decision and we stand by ours.”

    Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO is the central labor body covering Troy and Rensselaer County. Our affiliated local unions represent over 14,000 working people.

  • TALC 2021 Endorsed Candidates

    After conducting numerous interviews with candidates for elected office acrossTroy and Rensselaer County, the Troy Area Labor Council (TALC), AFL-CIO issued its final candidates endorsements for the 2021 general election.

    Adam Pelletier, TALC president and American Federation of Government Employees Local 3343 (Social Security Administration) member, said, “I am proud to support these candidates for elected office across Troy and Rensselaer County. This year, we revamped our endorsement process in an effort to make it more rigorous and to ensure we support those candidates who truly stand with labor and working people. On primary night, four out of our five endorsed candidates won their Democratic Primaries. We look forward to expanding on these victories in the upcoming general election this November.”

    The Troy Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO 2021 endorsements are as follows:

    • Gwen Wright for Rensselaer County Executive
    • Justan Foster for Rensselaer County Clerk
    • D. Colin Charlestin for Troy City Council District 1
    • Kiani Conley-Wilson for Troy City Council District 5
    • Marketa Edwards Troy City Council District 6
    • Cindy Doran for Rensselaer County LegislatureDistrict 1 (Troy)
    • Peter Grimm for Rensselaer County Legislature District 1 (Troy)
    • Nina Nichols for Rensselaer County Legislature District 1 (Troy)
    • Alexander Flood for Rensselaer County Legislature District 5 (Nassau, Sand Lake, Schodack)
    • Jennifer Mann for Brunswick Town Council
    • Paul Buehler for Brunswick Town Council
    • Michael Myer for North Greenbush Town Council

    In the race for Troy City Council District 3, TALC conditioned its endorsement of Sue Steele. TALC supports a community effort, led by the community group, Friends of Mahicantuck, to stop any potential development at 1011 Second Ave, the last undeveloped piece of land on the Hudson River in the Lansingburgh section of Troy. The opposition from residents and neighbors of the potential development is virtually universal yet Sue Steele’s voting record indicates she may vote to move ahead without an environmental impact review. TALC urges her to vote yes for a positive declaration, which would require an environmental impact study be conducted.

    “Elected officials should listen to their constituents at all times, but particularly when their dissent to a particular issue before a governing body is near-universal. Residents in Lansingburgh and across Troy, along with prominent environmental organizations, have been clearly opposed to any development at 1011 Second Ave. It is vital that Councilmember Sue Steele hears them and votes for a positive declaration when this issue is next before the council. If she does not, TALC will withdraw its endorsement and support for candidacy,” concluded Pelletier. 

  • Resolution in Support of Hazard Pay for New York’s Essential Employees

    At its June 2021 regular meeting, the Troy Area Labor Council adopted this resolution.

    A Resolution on Hazard Pay for New York’s Essential Employees

    Whereas, in the spring of 2020, our state and nation were confronted with a new, highly contagious virus called COVID-19 which impacted every aspect of our social, political and economic life; and

    Whereas, in order to keep the virus from spreading and to keep our communities safe, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on March 7, 2020; and

    Whereas, on March 22, 2020, Governor Cuomo ordered all non-essential businesses and not-for-profit organizations to close operations and almost every New Yorker was ordered to stay home; and

    Whereas, understanding that public and other services needed to be delivered, especially to New York’s neediest and most vulnerable, the Governor ordered that “essential” state employees and other “essential” workers continue to report to work despite the risk to themselves and their families; and

    Whereas, throughout this pandemic, “essential” workers served valiantly and with distinction, rendering services to New Yorkers, transporting and stocking grocery and department stores, ensuring the public health and safety and caring for those stricken by the virus; and

    Whereas, thousands of public and private sector workers have lost their lives, infected family members and unknowingly spread the virus throughout their communities due to a lack of personal protective equipment and inappropriate guidance rendered by management; and

    Whereas, since the onset of the crisis, many private sector employers provided hazard duty or “essential” worker pay to their essential employees to recognize their selfless service, including Northwell Health which provided its essential employees with $2,500 in supplemental pay and 35 hours of additional vacation time; and

    Whereas, throughout the pandemic, our state faced serious budget challenges which resulted in a hard hiring freeze and a reduction of 5,000 full time positions and an overreliance on existing front-line staff at state agencies; and

    Whereas, in order to meet those budget challenges, the labor movement and elected officials fought for and achieved the American Rescue Plan which provided $12.6 billion in unfettered operating assistance, and other dedicated funding, to close the state’s budget gap and enable the state to increase overall state-supported programming by $7 billion; and

    Whereas, despite being characterized as “heroes” throughout the pandemic by the Governor and other elected officials, the 2021-22 state budget provided NO remuneration or recognition for the state’s essential workers who were ordered by their employer Governor Cuomo to risk their lives in service to the state during the pandemic; and

    Whereas, New Yorkers appreciate the work of their heroes during this pandemic and EXPECT the state, as an employer, to recognize the work of these heroes; now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, we urge elected officials at all levels to call upon the Governor, county executives, mayors, and executive officials at all levels of government to use a portion of the resources provided under the American Rescue Plan to provide for a hazard pay benefit for all essential workers.

  • Candidate Questionnaire for 2021 Primary and General Elections

    The Troy Area Labor Council invites candidates for local office across Troy and Rensselaer County to complete our questionnaire. You can complete it online using this form.

    Candidates seeking endorsements in the upcoming June Primaries should complete and return the questionnaire no later than Monday, May 10. The Council will be in touch with candidates afterwards to schedule interviews.

    Any questions regarding the questionnaire, contact TALC Vice President Adam Pelletier at apelletier3343@gmail.com.

  • Resolution in support Troy DSA’s demands to reform the Troy Police Department

    At its January 2021 meeting, a majority of TALC delegates voted to sign on in support of the Troy Democratic Socialists of America’s demands to reform the Troy Police Department.

    WHEREAS the Troy Police Department has shown consistent disregard for human life, particularly the lives of Black people, exemplified most recently by the murder of Edson Thevenin and attempted murder of Dahmeek McDonald.

    WHEREAS the Troy City Council empowered a “Reimagine Troy Community Justice Work Group” to study the problem of police violence and that group has since released a public statement on January 18, 2021 airing their frustrations that their work is not being supported by the city’s government.

    WHEREAS an estimated 11,000 people marched on the city in June in support of Black Lives Matter as the Troy Police Department ordered and ate pizza with City Council members in front of the widow of Edson Thevenin.

    WHEREAS the Troy Area Labor Council has a long and proud history of moral clarity and commitment to justice in times of struggle.

    LET IT BE RESOLVED that the Troy Area Labor Council formally endorses the demands articulated by the Troy chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America which can be found at https://defundtroypd.org/demands/ and are copied herein.

    Demands put forth by the Troy DSA:

    In June, 2020 we saw 11,000 people filled streets of Troy to say emphatically and with no reservations that Black Lives Matter and that police brutality must come to an end. That is why we. the undersigned. as residents of the City of Troy demand current and future city leaders adoption the following platform:

    Divest from policing, invest in Troy:

    • Immediate Budget & Hiring Freeze: Halt all future increases in police spending, including the approved $712,000 increase in the 2021 city budget, and institute a hiring freeze until the City moves forward with an examination of police practices, protocols, and internal culture.
    • Get cops out of schools: Students need support and services, not police surveillance and the constant threat of arrest or punishment. Remove School Resource Officers from Troy schools and invest in programming that helps students work through conflict in healthy, productive, and culturally-relevant ways. 
    • Demilitarize the police: Troy residents are not enemy combatants, and Troy is not a warzone. The use of military equipment such as helmets, camouflage, assault rifles, and tanks is an unnecessary provocation against community members. Troy must stop acquiring military equipment and dispose of its current arsenal.
    • Redirect funding to mental health, affordable housing, and social services: Redirect funds spent on policing to better support services that keep our community safe, including mental health and housing

    Hold police in Troy accountable for misdeeds:

    • Create a Civilian Police Review Board with teeth: Assembled in June 2020, the Police Objective Review Board has not met or released any statements. A real review board, composed of a majority of people most impacted by police violence, must receive sufficient funding, meet at least once a month, review complaints, collect evidence, and have the power to subpoena individuals and suggest or compell disciplinary actions against officers.
    • Create an Easier Process to File a Complaint: Troy community members must be able to file complaints against Troy Police Officers in an easy, convenient manner that does not require interaction with the police. This includes not only having mobile-friendly online forms but having paper forms available in public locations such as libraries. Copies of complaints must also go to Troy’s personnel department.
    • Impose a Duty to Intervene on Troy Police: Require Troy police officers to intercede when a fellow officer is using excessive force, hold officers who fail to do so accountable and protect police officers who intervene from retaliation.
    • Enforce ban on political “thin blue line” or “back the blue” gear: Troy Police must refrain from wearing pins, buttons, scarves, masks, gaiters, ties, and hats that have the symbols and iconography generally associated with political slogans including “thin blue line” and “back the blue.” 

    Promote police transparency in Troy:

    • Immediately Release All Disciplinary Records: With the repeal of Section 50-a of the New York Civil Rights Law, the city can and must release the disciplinary records and personnel files of all past, present, and future Troy police officers and command staff. It also must make a commitment to release these records on a regular and ongoing basis.
    • Pass the Right to Know Act:  The Right to Know Act would increase transparency in police interactions with the public by requiring officers to identify themselves when they interact with members of the public, provide a reason for the interaction, and hand over a business card with their name, rank, badge number, and command. It would also require officers to announce, prior to a search, that any searches of one’s body or property must have “voluntary, knowing and intelligent” consent.
  • Resolution calling for the prohibit private ownership of COVID-19 vaccines

    At its January 2021 regular meeting, the Troy Area Labor Council unanimously adopted this resolution.

    Whereas medical research concerning COVID-19 has been either directly funded by governments or indirectly by tax subsidies or deferments;

    Whereas pharmaceutical companies make exorbitant profits due to patent laws allowing monopoly pricing;

    Whereas Pfizer and others are using patent laws to limit vaccine production so as to enrich stock-holders;

    Whereas worldwide thousands die each day from COVID-19 and lack of adequate vaccine production and distribution exasperates this by delaying the development of herd immunity;

    Whereas Dr. Jonas Salk refused to patent the polio vaccine stating that the patent belonged to the people;

    Therefore be it resolved that the Troy Area Labor Council calls upon the Biden Administration to not only use the Defense Production Act to increase COVID-19 vaccine production, but also to take necessary steps to remove private ownership of COVID-19 vaccines, thereby increasing its production worldwide.

  • Resolution To Call For US-Cuba Collaboration To Save Lives in the Fight Against COVID-19

    This resolution was passed unanimously at the Troy Area Labor Council’s December 16, 2020.

    WHEREAS: US deaths from Covid-19 fall disproportionately on Black, Latino and Indigenous communities; and

    WHEREAS: in New York State deaths from Covid-19 also fall disproportionately on communities of color, Blacks and Native Americans have three times the number of cases and hospitalizations than whites; and

    WHEREAS: by nature a pandemic is global and Covid-19 cases has topped 65 million, and continues to grow; and

    WHEREAS: now is the time to call for international cooperation and solidarity in the face of this pandemic to save lives; and

    WHEREAS: Cuba has a record of saving 80% of their patients in critical and serious condition and where worldwide, some 80% of Covid-19 patients in critical condition are dying; and

    WHEREAS: Cuba has 1.2 deaths/100,000 and the US has over 83.6 deaths/100,000 people, and

    WHEREAS: Cuba has a long history of providing international medical aid and healthcare to the peoples of the world, especially in developing countries, under the banner of healthcare is a human right; and

    WHEREAS: Cuba’s Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade was decisive in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and has stepped forward in many epidemics around the world, including dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, swine flu and hepatitis; and

    WHEREAS: since the outbreak of Covid-19, Cuba has sent 37 medical brigades equipped with Cuban pharmaceuticals to 30 countries with requests of similar assistance from more countries; and

    WHEREAS: Cuba offers treatment regimens for patients and prevention protocols for health workers including clinical trials of Interferon Alpha 2B Recombinant, now in standard use in China and Cuba and more than 42 countries have expressed an interest in acquiring this pharmaceutical to include in its treatment in some of the worst cases of Covid-19; and

    WHEREAS: Interferon Alpha 2B Recombinant is not available in the US because of the 60-year-old US blockade against Cuba;

    and WHEREAS: the US blockade has severely restricted collaboration on scientific and medical research that interferes with the potential of saving lives in the face of this pandemic; and

    WHEREAS: there has been a precedence of medical collaboration between Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology and Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in developing CIMAvax, the Cuban lung cancer vaccine, and the collaboration between Cuba and the University of Illinois on infant mortality in Chicago;

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Troy Area Labor Council AFL-CIO calls on the Congress of the United States and the President to lift restrictions on access to Cuban medical expertise, including medical experts and workers and the importation of Interferon Alpha 2B Recombinant for clinical trials, in order to more effectively combat the Covid-19 pandemic and to save lives. Furthermore, we call on our federal government to cease its attempts to stop other countries from accepting Cuban medical brigades and assistance and to stop ongoing US measures that prevent Cuba from accessing and importing medical equipment and medicines to confront Covid- 19.

  • Letter of Support: Senator Bernie Sanders for Labor Secretary

    At the Troy Area Labor Council’s November meeting, delegates voted to endorse the appointment of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to be the next Labor Department Secretary. The following letter was sent to the Biden/Harris transition team, along with copies to the presidents of the AFL-CIO and Capital District Area Labor Federation.

    Dear President-Elect Biden,

    The Troy Area Labor Council respectfully requests that you appoint Senator Bernie Sanders  to be the next  Secretary  of Labor.

    Senator Sanders has a long history of support and strong empathy for the working people and a strong knowledge of Labor and union issues.  We are very supportive of a person who would work tirelessly to build union jobs, protect workers from arbitrary firings, and put pressure on businesses and corporations who would engage in union busting activities.

    We also think that the Senator’s call to eliminate “The Right to work for Less” laws would guarantee the right to unionize those workers excluded from labor protections, like farm and domestic workers.

    In order to meet your goal of making America more equitable and just, Senator Bernie Sanders would be the perfect person to work tirelessly to put American on the road to economic fairness.


    Herb Hennings
    President, Troy Area Labor Council AFL-CIO