NEW YORK– Fast-food workers will be at City Hall today to deliver over 3000 messages to the New York City Council from their coworkers and their supporters calling on Council members to pass laws that will enable workers in the industry to fund their own nonprofit organization with paycheck deductions and provide more regular work schedules so that workers can plan their lives and support their families.
Workers collected signatures in person and online to support a package of bills the Council introduced in December. The Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act is first-of-its-kind legislation in the country 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. Under the law, workers could tell their employer to make automatic regular contributions from their paychecks to a nonprofit organization. The bill will help workers bring together small financial contributions from many workers in the industry to create a strong organization that will educate workers about their rights on the job and help them push for the changes they need in their communities.
“Most workers in the industry don’t have bank accounts so automatic paycheck deductions are the only way we can make regular contributions,” said Shantel Walker, who works at Papa John’s in Brooklyn. “Under current law, our employers could allow us to make those automatic deductions but they know we are forming a strong nonprofit by workers and for workers so they won’t do it voluntarily. We need the Council to pass a law so our voices will be heard!”
Hundreds of workers have been advocating for the bills with City Council members in recent months.
The Fair Work Week scheduling legislation would require fast-food employers to give workers two weeks’ advance notice on their schedules or pay them a penalty for changes to their schedules with less than two weeks’ notice, require employers to offer shifts in the store that become available to existing part-time workers before hiring new workers to fill them and discourage the practice of clopenings—when a worker has to close and then open their store without enough time in between to rest– with penalty feel employers have to pay to workers if they are scheduled for back-to-back shifts with less than 11 hours in between.
“We hope that the City Council will pass this legislation without delay,” said Pierre Metivier, who works at Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn. “My schedule changes so much that I can’t plan my life and I don’t get enough hours to pay all my bills every month. So many of my coworkers are in the same situation. We need this legislation right away and we hope the Council will hold the vote as soon as possible.”
A super majority of council members are signed on as co-sponsors on Fair Work Week and Fast Food Worker Empowerment bills and workers will be at City Hall today urging the Council to hold a vote to pass the bills.
Fast-food workers in New York have won a path to $15 for themselves and all minimum-wage workers in the state, now they are taking action to further improve their jobs and their lives. 32BJ members have been supporting fast-food workers’ fight since the first strike in November of 2012 and are urging the council to hold a vote on this vital legislation.
“We stand with fast-food workers in their fight to form their own non-profit organization,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. They 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. When we pass this scheduling legislation, they want to have an organization that will help them ensure their employers follow the law.”
Other unions and community groups are also supporting fast food workers, including the following organizations who have signed an open letter of support for their legislation: 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; CWA District One; DC 37; Legal Services Staff Association, NOLSW/UAW 2320; New York Taxi Workers Alliance; Ofﬁce and Professional Employees International Union, Local 153; Professional Staff Congress; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW; ROC United; Teamsters Joint Council 16; NAACP New York State Conference; National Action Network; National Organization for Women – New York City; Planned Parenthood of New York City; A Better Balance; ALIGN; Avodah; Center for Popular Democracy; Citizen Action of New York; Community Service Society; Community Voices Heard; Faith in New York; Greater New York Labor – Religion Coalition; Habonim Dror; Hispanic Federation; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; Make the Road NY; Mission and Social Justice Commission of the Riverside Church in the City of New York; National Employment Law Project; National Income Life Insurance; National Institute for Reproductive Health; New York Communities for Change; New York Immigration Coalition; New York Latina Advocacy Network, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; Riders Alliance; The Workmen’s Circle; T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; United Hebrew Trades – New York; Jewish Labor Committee; and the Working Families Party.
You can find the petition online at http://fastfoodforward.org/nycfastfoodbills/
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 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 80,000 in New York City, 32BJ SEIU is one of the largest unions representing immigrant workers in the country.