NEW YORK— Cashiers, cooks and delivery people welcomed the news that the City Council will vote on Wednesday, May 24th, on vital legislation that will improve the schedules and lives of workers across New York City. The council will vote on a package of scheduling bills for a fair work week for fast-food and retail workers as well as a bill that will enable fast-food workers to have a united voice on the job and in their communities.
The fast-food workers and their allies will rally at 12:30 pm on Wednesday at City Hall to call on the Council to vote yes on the bills.
As the Trump Administration and Republicans in Washington are pushing legislation and regulation that is disastrous for working people, workers are calling on the City Council to take the lead in standing up for working families by passing these bills.
The Fair Work Week scheduling legislation includes three bills covering the fast-food industry. The first 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. The second requires employers to offer shifts in the store that become available to existing part-time workers before hiring new workers to fill them. The last discourages the practice of “clopenings”—when a worker has to close and then open their store without enough time to rest in between shifts. Under the Council’s bill, employers have to pay a penalty fee to workers if they are scheduled for back-to-back shifts with less than 11 hours in between.
“My schedule is changed with little notice and often my hours are cut from the shift I’m working on the very same day,” said Violeta Luis Dauze who works at McDonald’s in Washington Heights. “My husband is getting treatment for cancer and I need advance notice on my schedule so I can schedule his doctor visits at a time I know I’ll be able to take him. I never know if I’ll have enough hours so that my paycheck will cover the rent, food and other bills we have each month. My coworkers and I urge every council member to vote yes on the fair work week.”
Another bill would ban on-call scheduling in the retail industry, which disrupts workers lives by requiring them to be available to work certain hours even if they are not scheduled to work and won’t get paid.
The Council will also vote on the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act on Wednesday. This first-of-its-kind legislation in the country would enable fast food workers to set up a nonprofit organization to advocate for themselves and their families and improve their communities and fund it with contributions from their paychecks. The bill will help fast-food workers 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.
“We need to be able to form our own strong organization so we can make sure all workers in the industry know their rights– including their right to a fair work week once the Council passes the scheduling legislation,” said Viany Vargas who works at Burger King in Manhattan. “We also want a strong organization that will help us fight for police and criminal justice reform, affordable housing and immigrants’ rights in our neighborhoods. Being able to speak together with a united voice will help us improve our jobs, our lives and our communities.”
Hundreds of workers have been advocating for these bills with City Council members since they were introduced in December. Over 3000 fast-food workers and their allies signed a petition in support of the four pieces of fast-food legislation: https://buildingworkers.org/press-releases/fast-food-workers-sign-petition-fair-work-week-good-jobs/]
“The city council can be at the vanguard of promoting workers’ rights and protecting vulnerable communities by passing these bills. Getting a fair work week for tens-of-thousands of minimum wage workers in New York City and ensuring fast-food workers can speak with a united voice on workplace and community issues will strengthen our city and help workers win dignity on the job, ” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa, whose union has supported fast-food workers since their first strike. “The union movement and progressive community have stood with fast-food workers in the fight for $15. We’re proud to keep standing with them as they stand up for good jobs, stronger communities and respect.”
All of the bills have a majority of council members signed on as co-sponsors.
“RWDSU is committed to raising job standards across industries and occupations. On-call scheduling is a pervasive and exploitive employment practice where workers do not find out until just before a scheduled shift if they will be required to work or not. Today’s passage of Intro 1387 by the New York City Council and the Speaker is a critical step in helping workers gain more control over their own lives and their ability to earn a living. When Mayor de Blasio signs the bill into law it will set a national precedent that will help retail workers not just survive in this country but thrive,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
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.
“CWA District 1 is proud to stand with New York City fast-food workers who are fighting for better jobs. They need fair schedules so they can plan their lives, take care of their kids and make ends meet. They also want to have a united voice to ensure workers in the industry know their rights on the job and can advocate for the issues that are important to them in their communities. This is good for workers and good for our city,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President, Communications Workers of America, District 1.
“With the Trump Administration working to undermine the progress we’ve made on workers’ rights and setting an anti-worker agenda, it’s instrumental that we continue to protect all working New Yorkers. I’m proud to stand with the New York City Council as we New York City fast-food and retail workers achieve a fair work week,” said Council Member Brad Lander, the Council’s Deputy Leader of Policy. “This package will help ensure fairer schedules, will give fast-food workers a pathway to full-time hours, and will create an innovative new model for fast-food workers to advocate for their rights.”
“New York City can take a stand for workers by passing this vital legislation so individuals in the fast-food industry may improve their schedules, support their families, and strengthen their communities,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “As the federal government and Republicans in Washington try to chip away at the rights of working people, we must resist these attacks at the local level and support our workforce.”
“This package of legislation is about fairness, respect for people’s time, and restoring some balance into the employer-employee relationship,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “These bills will directly improve the quality of life of workers throughout the city and I’m proud to play a role in their passage. At a time when labor rights are under attack across the country, it’s more important than ever that New York lead the way in setting new standards for valuing workers.”
“The tens of thousands of New Yorkers who must deal with unpredictable, ever-changing hours know that it’s time for a fair workweek in New York City. These reforms have the support of a broad coalition of New Yorkers from all walks of life and are badly needed to provide true flexibility and balance for working people in New York’s food and retail chains. We are confident that New York City will join cities and states across the country in ensuring a stable workweek that working families can count on,” said Elianne Farhat, Deputy Campaign Director for the Fair Workweek Initiative at Center for Popular Democracy.
“We’re proud to stand with New York City fast-food workers who are fighting for better jobs,” said NY State Director of the Working Families Party Bill Lipton. “A fair scheduling policy would be a big step forward for New Yorkers who are part of the fastest growing segment of the workforce: part-time and low-wage jobs. Workers also deserve a united voice to ensure they know their rights on the job and can advocate for the issues that are important to them. With the Trump administration chipping away at workers’ rights and promising more tax breaks for billionaires, it’s more important than ever that we stand up and fight back at the local and state level.”
“New York City can take a stand for workers by passing this vital legislation for fast-food workers so they can improve their schedules and stand together for good jobs and strengthen their communities. This will improve the lives of 60,000 fast-food workers and their families and have many positive benefits for the city. As the Trump Administration and Republicans in Washington try to chip away at the rights of working people, the New York City Council is standing up for progressive values and workers’ rights,” said Paul Sonn, General Counsel, National Employment Law Project.
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 around the world. 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 the largest property service workers union in the country.