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New York City Council Passes Fair Workweek Legislation

NYC is the fourth and largest city to adopt protections for work hours


NEW YORK – The New York City Council today passed legislation to improve the schedules and lives of workers across New York City, making New York the fourth and largest city in the country to pass a comprehensive fair workweek package, following Seattle, San Francisco, and Emeryville, California. Washington, DC and San Jose, California, have also passed fair workweek protections in the past year.

"We are thrilled that New York City has joined cities and states across the country in ensuring working people have balanced and flexible workweeks they can count on. These reforms will give working people the chance to support their families, stay healthy, and build thriving communities. Tens of thousands of working parents and students in New York will now have the flexibility they need to balance their responsibilities on and off the job. We know this vote will inspire other cities to act and other workers to stand up for the same commonsense standards. It’s clear that the movement for a fair workweek is catching fire and we only expect it to grow,” said Elianne Farhat, Campaign Director for the Fair Workweek Initiative at Center for Popular Democracy.

Hundreds of workers have been advocating for these bills with City Council members since they were introduced in December, with more than 3,000 fast-food workers and their allies signing a petition in support of the four pieces of fast-food legislation and workers going on strike to push for the law.

The Fair Work Week legislation includes four bills covering the fast-food and retail industries. The first would require fast-food employers provide two weeks’ advance notice of employees’ work schedules and compensate them for changes after it is posted. The second and third, also specific to fast food employers, promote full-time work by requiring existing employees have the first opportunity to pick up additional shifts before new hires are made and incentivizes healthier schedules by discouraging the practice of "clopenings"—when a worker has to close and then open their store without enough time to rest in between shifts. The last is a bill that would discourage the use of on-call shifts in the retail industry - an unnecessary and unfair scheduling practice that requires working people to put whole days on hold for their employer without any guarantee of work or pay.

The Council also passed the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act. This first-of-its-kind legislation in the country would enable fast food workers to set up a nonprofit organization, funded with contributions from their paychecks, to advocate for themselves and their families and improve their communities.

“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.”

“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).

“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.”

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.


Media Contact: 

Asya Pikovsky, apikovsky@populardemocracy.org, 207-522-2442