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Addabbo seeks benefits for workers who get hurt on job, go to combat

By Philip Newman

The administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it opposed both bills and contends the City Council has no legal right to enact legislation on either issue.”Family members deserve the kind of coverage and security this bill will provide,” said Addabbo in reference to the measure (Int. 286) to cover all city workers' families with health insurance. “I am hopeful that this hearing will move this issue forward.”The other bill (Int. 517) would add five days of additional leave for city employees who temporarily are called for military service and who see combat duty.The measure's supporters said such employees need a few days after returning from such military service to reunite with their families.The Bloomberg administration, invited to the hearing, sent no one but instead presented a letter expressing its views from Karen Meara, director of city legislative affairs.”Without commenting on the policy objectives of these two bills, the administration opposes (both measures) based on the determination that the Council legally has no authority to unilaterally pass legislation concerning annual leave or health benefits coverage for city employees,” Meara wrote.Addabbo, chairman of the Council Civil Service and Labor Committee, said his committee would consult with the Council lawyers.Robert Cassar, president of the Communication Workers of America Local 1182 representing 1,750 traffic enforcement and sanitation enforcement agents, spoke in favor of the extension of health insurance to all families of city workers who died as result of their work duties.”Since everyone in the city benefits from services provided by my fellow members and other city workers, it is only fair that we receive the same protections under the law as our brothers and sisters who are members of the uniformed forces,” Cassar said.Other unions have also expressed support for the health insurance proposal.The only city employees now covered by such insurance are firefighters and police. Similar legislation has been passed to include other city agencies, but Addabbo proposed Int. No. 286 to cover all city employees so legislation does not continue to be passed in a piecemeal manner.Bloomberg issued a personnel order extending a benefits package to mayoral agency employees serving in Iraq or on “ordered military duty in connection with events of Sept.11, 2001.” Such employees remain on the city payroll at full salary, accrue annual and sick leave, and get full health benefits.The Department of Citywide Administrative Services said that as of Dec. 6, 2,342 city employees were eligible for active duty military service. Of that number, 1,398 city employees were called for service and 520 were actually sent into combat. Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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