City Council Will Introduce Package of Bills to Win a Fair Work Week and Better Jobs for Fast Food, Other NYC Workers

New York City leads the way with groundbreaking local legislation as the national climate for workers shifts to the right and in the wake of the largest actions by minimum wage workers ever
For more information:

Rachel Cohen: 917-370-8464 RCohen@seiu32bj.org

**Council Members and workers will have press availability at City Hall Steps TOMORROW, Tuesday, December 6th at 10am.**

NEW YORK— The New York City Council on Tuesday will introduce a package of laws that would improve jobs in the fast food industry and other retail jobs, providing more regular schedules and access to more hours for workers so they can plan their lives and support their families. The council is also introducing a first-of-its-kind bill that would enable fast food workers to set up a non-profit organization in order to advocate for themselves and their families and improve their communities.

Ahead of Donald Trump’s presidency, Council Members are listening to the voices of working New Yorkers and taking action to protect the gains that fast food and other minimum wage workers have won in New York. The bills will be introduced a week after thousands of minimum-wage workers took action in 340 cities nationwide and dozens took arrest in an action in Lower Manhattan to mark the four-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 and the first fast food strike in New York City. Council Members and workers will rally on the City Hall Steps tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6th at 10am.

“My schedule is constantly changing and I rarely get the hours I want,” said Alvin Major, who works at a KFC in Brooklyn. He was one of the original strikers in New York City and was on strike last week. “We need laws that keep our employers from changing our schedules at the last minute or cutting our shifts when want a full-time job. I’m a father of four with two kids in college and I struggle every month to make enough to support my family.”

In September, Mayor de Blasio said he would push for legislation that would give fast food workers advance notice on their schedules and penalty pay for last minute changes.

The City Council is heeding the mayor’s call and will go even further to give workers more certainty about their hours and ensure they can take care of their families. Council Members Brad Lander, Corey Johnson and Debi Rose will introduce a package of scheduling bills under the umbrella of the Fair Work Week for NYC. The bills will combat some of the biggest scheduling abuses in the fast food industry and some apply to other retail workers as well. Similar bills have already been passed in San Francisco, Seattle and Emeryville, California.

“Without a stable work schedule, who can build a stable life?” asked Council Member Brad Lander. “New Yorkers trying to pay the rent and feed their families should not be subject the whims of shift cancellations and last minute changes to their hours. I’m proud that the New York City Council is helping fast food workers achieve a fair work week – with two weeks’ advance notice and a pathway to full-time hours – and making sure that all workers can request schedule flexibility for caregiving, schools, and the realities of their lives.”

“We can’t allow fast-food employees to face unfair demands like closing down the shop one night and opening it up the next morning,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Eliminating this burdensome expectation is one of the important steps we can take immediately to create a better workplace for thousands of New Yorkers. I thank Council Member Andrew Cohen for joining with me in this important effort, as well as 32BJ SEIU and our fast food employees for their service to our City.”

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland will introduce the Fast Food Empowerment Act, which would require fast food employers to honor workers’ request to make a paycheck deduction of voluntary contributions to a not-for-profit organization.

Workers are pushing for the bill so they can gather resources for an organization that can monitor and enforce their victories. After the bill is passed, workers will be able to create an organization to fight for themselves, their families and their communities. This legislation would be the first of its kind in the country and could create a new model for fast food workers advocating for changes in their workplaces and communities.

“After all that we’ve achieved in the Fight for $15 movement here in New York City, we realized that now more than every we need to form an organization to unite our voices on the issue that matter to us, our families and our neighborhoods,” said Flavia Cabral, who works at a McDonald’s in Midtown Manhattan. “We want to come together and educate everyone in our stores about their rights and we want to fight for social and economic justice issues in our communities.”

Once these bills pass, fast food workers want to have a mechanism to make sure all their coworkers know about their rights. The Fast Food Worker Empowerment Bill is the first of its kind in the country and will enable workers to form an advocacy organization so they can educate their coworkers about their rights on the job and advocate in their communities for policies they need like access to affordable housing and immigration reform.

“The Fast Food Worker Empowerment Bill is the first of its kind in the country and will enable workers to form an advocacy organization,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “It will allow them to educate their coworkers about their rights on the job and advocate in their communities for policies they need, like access to affordable housing and immigration reform. This bill will allow fast food workers to create an organization, gather their financial resources and focus on the issues that are important to them as working families.”

The Service Employees International Union and building workers local 32BJ, whose 70,000 New York City members have been supporting the fast food workers’ Fight for $15,have been supporting low-wage workers in their fight to improve their jobs and their lives.

“Workers need to be able to come together in an organization that will help them fight for and enforce the changes they are winning for themselves and their families and helps them lift up their communities,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. ”And when we pass this scheduling legislation, they want to have an organization that will help them ensure their employers follow the law. This is a first for workers in the country and points to a new way that fast food workers and others can come together to gather resources and advocate for themselves, their coworkers and their communities.”

Highlights of the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Bill include:

• Requires a fast food employer, on written authorization by a fast food employee, to deduct voluntary contributions and remit them to a Covered not-for-profit organization.
• Includes provisions that ensure the mechanism will not be burdensome to employers
• The Department of Consumer Affairs will register covered not-for-profit organizations
• Includes anti-retaliation protection for workers
• Includes penalties and remedies for violations by the employer
• Provides for agency enforcement but also allows aggrieved persons to go directly to court

Highlights of the Fair Work Week Bills:

• Fast food workers would get two weeks’ notice of their schedule
• When changes are made in the schedule, fast food workers would be paid a penalty for those changes by their employer
• Ensure that when more hours become available in the schedule they would be offered first to existing employees in a fast food store so that they have access to more hours if they want them before new workers are hired. This will offer a pathway to full-time work.
• Penalizes the practice of “clopenings” in the fast food industry, where workers are forced to close their store and return for the next shift to open it again
• Bans the practice of on-call scheduling in the retail industry and provides remedies and protections to retail workers when on-call scheduling occurs
• Establishes a process for all employees to seek flexible work arrangements and establishes a “right to receive” flexible work arrangements in certain emergency situations

A coalition of groups have come together to fight for fair scheduling in New York City and will join the rally tomorrow at City Hall.

“Over the past year, we have seen the movement for a fair workweek take off, with laws to provide more predictable, stable hours racing across the country,” said Elianne Farhat, Deputy Campaign Director – Fair Workweek Initiative, Center for Popular Democracy. “New York City is the largest city to embrace a fair workweek – and it won’t be the last. People working in fast food and retail have made clear that higher wages are not enough without hours they can count on. Now more than ever, parents and students need more input into their work hours so they can balance working hard with caring for their families, attending college classes and participating in our community. Together, we can pass commonsense standards that give hardworking people the wages they need to put food on the table — and the hours to be able to eat with their families too.”

“A Better Balance is thrilled that New York City is taking major steps to address the serious problem of workers’ lack of control of their schedules,” said A Better Balance Co-President Sherry Leiwant. “It is next to impossible to care for a family’s needs when workers have no idea what their hours of work will be and no way to have input into their schedules. We applaud the Mayor and the City Council for introducing legislation to help workers meet their economic needs and manage their lives.”

“We commend Council Members Lander, Johnson, Ferreras-Copeland and Rose for this important and innovative legislation,” said Deborah Axt, Make the Road New York, Co-Executive Director. “It is vital that our City continues to fight for the economic security of New York’s workers, especially those who are vulnerable to exploitation. The fight for $15 victory brought historic wage increases to New York’s low wage workers, but fair scheduling rights are needed to ensure that victory is meaningfully felt. This legislation acknowledges that workers need the respect of knowing their hours of work in advance so they can adequately plan their lives and support their families.”

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The Fight for $15 started in New York City in 2012, when 200 brave fast-food workers walked off their jobs, demanding $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation. The movement has spread to cities around the world and to industries across the low-wage service economy including home care and child care. Once considered a long shot, workers have won $15 in California and New York State, in cities like Washington, D.C. and Seattle, and in companies and industries all around the nation. Learn more at fightfor15.org.

With 155,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 70,000 in New York City, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.