29 Nov

What the Food Service Industry Needs to Know About New York State’s Ban on PFAS in Food Packaging

Join us for a FREE Webinar on Thursday, December 1st from 11am to 11:30am!

In 2020, the New York legislature passed a ban on PFAS in food packaging, which goes into effect at the end of this year.  PFAS are”per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,” a class of manufactured chemicals used in products to resist heat, stains, oil, and water. As research continues to uncover the many health impacts of PFAS, the food service industry must transition effectively to safer alternatives.

Participants will learn more about this new law, what to expect nationwide, and how your business can effectively transition.  NYSBC is partnering with Emerald Brand to provide this essential primer especially for businesses in the food service industry.  Based in Huntington, NY, Emerald Brand has been a consistent pioneer in sustainable retail packaging since 1997 and now produces PFAS-free food packaging. 

<Register for the webinar HERE>

07 Apr

Repost: No to Fracking Waste Here

When, at the end of 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide ban on the environmentally unsound practice of fracking — high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas — many of us breathed a sigh of relief, only to discover that New York City remains vulnerable to harm from gas drilling waste and from plans to expand the state’s gas delivery infrastructure. The AIM pipeline, for instance, will be built next to the aging Indian Point nuclear plant. An explosive pipeline rupture, though unlikely, could happen and cause unthinkable consequences for Riverdale, less than 30 miles away and, of course, the entire region. 

The fossil fuel industry has come to regard the state’s fracking ban as no more than a pesky mosquito on its shoulder in otherwise open territory for pipelines, compressors, landfills and roadways to move, utilize and store fracked gas and its chemically-laden, sometimes radioactive by-products from Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

The shale gas revolution of the past few years — especially since 2011 — has brought what seems like an explosion of gas infrastructure projects and a flood of fracking waste water and drill cuttings into New York. More than 510,000 tons of solid waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid waste — and counting — from oil and gas extraction operations in neighboring Pennsylvania have been shipped to New York landfills for disposal.

During the same five years, however, peer reviewed studies have shown that there are harms to health from fracking and its by-products that include risks from air and water contamination and, most recently documented, from methane and other gas emissions from infrastructure.

Municipalities and county legislatures played an important role in the fight against fracking. Before the state acted, they acted on their own with more than 200 local bans. These helped to convince the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation to recommend the Governor’s executive order.

The battlefield has now shifted to limit fracking’s collateral damage. At the moment, there are 15 county bans on the disposal of fracking waste in New York landfills or water treatment plants and/or the spreading of fracking waste on roads as a de-icer or for dust control.  The potential environmental and economic consequences of the migration of this toxic waste to water resources and agricultural operations, in addition to its public health impacts, has raised concerns upstate and down.

Downstate, the New York City Council is currently considering a bill to ban the sale, disposal, discharge or use of fracking waste in the five boroughs. This waste is known to contain harmful pollutants and high levels of naturally occurring radioactive material, posing a serious public health threat.  In NYC, the use of these by-products for de-icing city streets, highways and park roads would create an unacceptable threat to drivers, road-workers, traffic cops, pedestrians, pets, parklands and lakes, streams and waterways.  New York City needs an absolute ban on the use of fracking and other drilling waste and stiff penalties for non-compliance.

Thanks to Councilman Andrew Cohen, an early sponsor, Int. 446 has a chance of making it out of committee soon. If others would follow his example, the council would be able to take bold action and send a signal to the industry as well as to state legislators that the use of this waste will not be tolerated.

Mr. Cohen is also a sponsor of the Council’s resolution, also in committee, to call upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to not relicense Indian Point 2 and 3, the highest ranked reactor in the country for core damage from an earthquake.  This facility is already vulnerable to terrorism and accidents. The construction of the AIM pipeline to carry fracked gas next to it is an unconscionable increase in risk, and a striking example of the runaway expansion of gas and oil infrastructure in New York.  The Governor has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the industry-friendly federal agency that oversees pipelines, for a stay of construction pending further study but was recently turned down.

A new study from Harvard reveals that the recent mysterious and dramatic spike in methane emissions found in the US is attributable to the spike in fracking operations and infrastructure.  Methane, which is escaping into the atmosphere at huge rates, is now recognized for its short-term climate damaging impacts, a more immediate threat than carbon emissions to climate stability, public health and the economy.

It is becoming clearer every day that natural gas, which is now primarily fracked gas, must not be regarded as a green fuel or a bridge fuel as we have been led to believe. It is one more fossil fuel that we must leave in the ground, and by-products off our city streets, as we immediately implement the critical transition to renewable, clean energy.

Hilary Baum, a resident of Riverdale, directs Chefs for the Marcellus, a food industry group dedicated to preservation of sustainable agriculture, and is a member of the New York State Sustainable Business Council.

04 Apr

The Guardian: How New York’s paid family leave is a revolutionary step for employees

By Joanna Walters
April 1, 2016
Read original article here

New York state has announced plans for the most far-reaching paid family leave law in America, as well as promising to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The state will mandate the right to 12 weeks of paid leave for both private sector workers asking for time off to care for a new baby and workers who need to look after a sick child or partner, a dying parent or other such family emergency.

The system is designed to be paid for with insurance-style funds made up of fees deducted from pay packets, rather than costing companies directly.

After long and largely unsuccessful battles to improve notoriously stingy maternity leave rights across the country, the New York law will introduce an extensive and egalitarian model which advocates hope will now influence other states and federal lawmakers.

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced late on Thursday that the state legislature had agreed the new policy on paid family leave. In addition, he promised to increase the state minimum wage, in phases, from $9 to $15 an hour over two to six years.

Employees’ rights advocates are calling the wage boost a “revolution in the workplace”.

“I believe this is the best plan the state has produced in decades,” Cuomo said after long hours of negotiations in Albany brought agreement on the next annual budget, which includes the new measures.

The right to three months of paid family leave a year will be offered to mothers and fathers adopting or fostering as well as having their own biological children. It will be mandated for men and women needing to nurse a sick partner, spouse, parent or other family member.

New York is only the fifth state in the US to adopt a paid family leave law. California implemented such a law in 2004, but it only offers six weeks of paid leave, as do provisions passed in New Jersey in 2009 and Rhode Island in 2014. Washington state adopted a similar measure in 2007 but has yet to put it into practice.

Federal family and medical leave laws passed in 1993 under Bill Clinton’s administration only guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job protection, and excluded companies with fewer than 50 employees.

New York’s new law will guarantee pay and applies to small businesses as well as large companies. It covers the private sector; public sector unions can opt in.

“This is the most robust paid family leave program in the US, it’s tremendous and will be a revolution in the workplace and for economic justice,” said Donna Dolan, executive director of the Time to Care New York Paid Leave Coalition, a campaign group with corporate and union members that has been battling for better leave rights for more than 15 years.

Dolan pointed out that America is still far behind the rest of the developed world; countries such as the UK offer 40 weeks of paid maternity leave. But she called New York’s plan a “pacesetter”.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington DC are close to passing new paid family leave laws, she said.

Dolan said Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have declared strong support for mandatory paid family leave, while the Republican candidates left in the race, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have not publicly addressed the issue.

“It’s just not on their radar screen,” she said.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand has co-sponsored a bill mandating national paid family leave, but, Dolan said, it has no chance of passing a Congress paralyzed by partisan legislative gridlock and controlled by Republicans.

Mandated paid family leave in New York state will begin in 2018 with employees being docked approximately 70 cents a week from their pay. The money will be paid into a family leave insurance fund, and the program will be phased in over three to four years.

According to the New York state department of labor, workers paid at or below the state average weekly wage, which in 2014 was $1,266.44, will receive two-thirds of their average pay while on family leave. The program will be capped at the state average, so higher-paid workers will lose out.

“This program will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees, so it costs business, both big and small, nothing,” Cuomo said.

The Business Council of New York State, which represents thousands of companies and chambers of commerce, is opposed to the plan as well the $15 minimum wage.

“We are disappointed with the multibillion-dollar increase in the minimum wage … [and] further discouraged that the budget deal includes the most expansive paid family leave law in the nation while leaving out meaningful business cost reductions,” said Heather Briccetti, chief executive of the business council, in a statement.

But Laura Ornstein, coordinator of the New York State Sustainable Business Council, said the new law will help employers, by boosting morale, productivity and loyalty of workers.

“Debating whether you want to stay home and lose out on pay, or maybe even lose your job, is awful,” she said. “If you go into work you are worried, you are distracted. We are very excited by this new law.”

She added that the wide reach of the law, beyond maternity leave, had probably made it more popular and relevant, therefore winning it easier passage through the legislature.

Cuomo talked about deeply regretting not spending more time with his dying father in 2014. His wife recently had surgery for breast cancer.

Upstate, Jan Rhodes Norman, a small business owner and co-founder of the Local First Ithaca business association, said she would have preferred the state to have announced more tax cuts for businesses in tandem with the new laws. Overall, she supported the paid family leave plan.

“America is so behind other developed countries in not having this sort of safety net and we need to be moving in that direction,” she said.

04 Apr

TWC News Capitol Region: Small Business Owners Support Cuomo’s Paid Family Leave Program

By Michael Howard
March 23, 2016
See original article for video

Laura Kerrone’s newly formed business, Psychedelicatessen in Troy, has a little more than 10 employees. At the beginning of the venture, Kerrone said one of her workers found out she was pregnant and needed time off.

“It didn’t take her long to realize how much she liked working here, and she said ‘I really hope that I’m able to come back here,’ ” Kerrone said.

The employee needed money, Kerrone continued, and was forced to come back early after giving birth. Her stay, though, didn’t last long.

“She ended up leaving because she said ‘This is too much; I can’t, I need to [make] money and need to support my family, but I also have to be there for them as well,’ ” said Kerrone.

That’s what brought Kerrone and many other small business owners from across the state to Albany on Wednesday to back the governor’s paid family leave proposal.

“Paid family leave would help reduce the cost by boosting morale and job loyalty and lowering turnover,” said Laura Ornstein of the New York State Sustainable Business Council.

The plan, which the governor has included in his budget, would require small businesses to offer 12 weeks of paid benefits while employees take time off to care for newborn babies or seriously ill relatives. Workers would pay $0.60 a week into a state fund to cover part of their salaries if they take family leave.

Supporters say it has thrived in other states.

“We can experience the benefits of paid family leave that states like California, New Jersey [and] Rhode Island have been experiencing for years,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo.

They’re calling on others to not have what they call a knee-jerk reaction that the proposal could be harmful to small businesses. In turn, they say, it could help them compete for workers with larger companies.

Kerrone believes the program would help boost employee morale while, at the same time, keep the business running smoothly.

“For an employee to actually care about their job is something you can’t go out and find,” said Kerrone.

State legislators are scheduled to take up paid family leave when they address the governor’s budget, which has an April 1 deadline.

05 Jan

1/21 Rally to Celebrate NY Fracking Ban and Lead the Nation in Renewable Energy!


On January 21st in Albany, New York, we will come together to celebrate an incredible victory for science, public health, the environment, and our movement, and will give thanks to Governor Cuomo and speak to the importance of this decision for the whole nation and the opportunities ahead for renewable energy!

What: Rally and Party to Celebrate New York Fracking Ban and Lead the Nation in Renewable Energy!

When: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015


Time: 11:30 am – 12:30pm

Where: Concourse Hallways, outside the entrance to the Convention Center, Empire Plaza, Albany, NY



What: We Banned Fracking Celebration! Featuring food, drink, special guest speakers and music

When: Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Time: 1pm-4pm

Where: The Hilton Albany 40 Lodge St. Albany, NY (one block down the hill on State St from the Capitol building)

For a Shuttle in the Albany/Capital District region contact Susan Weber at sweber2@nycap.rr.com or at 518-462-3247


Due to the great victory, the NYC buses are re-directing to the Port Ambrose hearing. If you would like to carpool to Albany from NYC sign up here or you can get on the bus in Westchester or Newburgh.

Reserve a Seat in Westchester/Rockland

Reserve a Seat in Newburgh

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Reserve a Seat in Saugerties/Catskill

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Reserve a Seat in Ithaca/Caroline/Whitney Point

Reserve a Seat in Binghamton

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To Reserve a Seat in Cooperstown, Oneonta or Sharon Springs contact Susan Pastor at admin@otsego2000.org

For general RSVP, Carpooling, Comments and To CO-SPONSOR sign up here,