On Tuesday Mayor de Blasio signed into law key amendments to the Displaced Build Service Workers Act that expands job security to thousands of building service workers when their employers change and helps them fight back against building owners and tenants who want to threaten their job security and drive down wages and benefits.
“We recognize how important it is to protect the workers who keep our buildings running from having their jobs endangered through circumstances that are no fault of their own,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the signing ceremony.
In April, the City Council passed key amendments to the Displaced Building Service Workers Act, which was originally passed in 2002 to protect building service workers’ good jobs when their employer changed. Since 2002, the law helped many workers stay in their jobs and maintain wages and benefits.
“I think it’s great to know that now no matter what happens to a building, we won’t get left out in the cold. This new law makes us feel protected and safe,” said Jaime Betancourt, a commercial cleaner working in Lower Manhattan.
The new law will close loopholes that have left some of them vulnerable to predatory building owners who want to pay cleaners, doormen, security officers and others substandard wages with little or no meaningful benefits.
“The salary cap was outdated and needed to be raised to keep up with the rising cost of living in New York City,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “We also needed to close loopholes that allowed building owners and commercial space lessees to ignore the law and put good jobs at risk. These changes to the law ensure it will continue to cover the workers it was created to protect.”
The new law also strengthens the remedies available to workers when a building owner or tenant refuses to hire them.
32BJ members rallied, testified before City Council and spoke one-on-one with Council members to help pass this legislation that will allow them to stay in New York City and raise their families here.
“Today is a great day for workers like us. The extension of this bill means that even if a building is sold, our jobs are secure. Now we can feel peace of mind and be able to support our families,” said Roger Vargas, a commercial cleaner in Midtown Manhattan.
The Amendments in the new law:
- Raise the outdated salary cap of $25 an hour that was created in 2002 when the original bill passed to $35 an hour and index it to inflation so that it protects the workers it is intended to protect in the future.
- Extend protection to workers when their jobs are in-sourced and the employer goes from a contractor to a building owner.
- Cover workers who were employed by a building owner if the owner decides to contract out the work.
- Include protection of building service workers who work for an office building tenant with at least 35,000 square feet of space or for a contractor for a tenant.
- Increase remedies available to workers when a building owner or tenant refuses to hire them. The amendments make clear that back pay is not limited to the 90-day transition period. The new bill also provides for a double backpay to compensate workers for additional harm associated with losing their jobs.