Westchester County Legislators Pass Displaced Worker Act

Westchester County Legislators Pass Displaced Worker Act

New Rochelle — The Westchester Board of Legislators passed the Displaced Worker Protection Act yesterday with a veto-proof majority of 16 votes to one. The law will ensure that vulnerable, low-wage service workers have some job protections when a building is sold or a new cleaning contractor is brought in.

John Santos, Hudson Valley area leader and vice president of 32BJ SEIU, the largest service workers union in the country, said, “Without the Displaced Worker Protection Act, property service workers in Westchester County were subject to a revolving door of employers who were free to lay them off with no notice. The bipartisan support for passing this law shows that Westchester County cares about its workers and their families being treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

“This law will ensure building service workers will have job security during the transition period due to management or ownership changes,” said County Legislator Peter B. Harckham, Democratic majority leader. “It’s critical to keep people working during these challenging times.”

Jim Maisano, a Republican county legislator said, “This is an important law to protect service workers from the crisis of being laid off and hopefully it’ll cause the building owners and management companies to keep these people employed when changing contracts.”

Similar legislation has also seen bipartisan support in the many states and localities where it has passed successfully, including San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles, as well as California and Maryland.

Without the protections of the displaced worker law, service workers are sometimes fired immediately when a new building owner or contractor comes in, creating instability and hardship for the workers and their families. Westchester County’s Displaced Worker Protection Act establishes a 60-day transition period during which service workers would be allowed to keep their jobs, giving them a chance to demonstrate their value to the new contractor or owner. Cleaning contractors and workers alike see the benefits to the new law.

“My company also operates in New York City, where similar legislation has been in place for nearly 10 years,” said Jeremy Bressler, vice president of operations for the Connecticut/Westchester region for Guardian Service Industries in his testimony before the Board of Legislators. “Displaced worker protection has been very successful in helping responsible contractors like us remain competitive while providing fair wages and benefits to our employees without disruption to the industry. It has, in turn, smoothed transition and continuity of services to our clients.”

Alejandro Sanchez, a service worker and member of 32BJ SEIU, testified, “Five years ago, my coworkers and I knew ahead of time that the building where we worked was being sold, but we didn’t know we’d lose our jobs. I had been the super of the building for 18 years but that didn’t stop the new owner from replacing me with his family member the day he took over the building. The hardship of being suddenly unemployed was very difficult for me and my family. No one should suffer the way we suffered through no fault of our own.”

With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, including 5,000 in Hudson Valley, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.


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