Mayor, labor celebrate Fair WorkWeek anniversary

Stephon Johnson | 11/27/2019, 11:11 a.m.
Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, labor activists and other elected officials celebrated two years of a ...
(Bill Moore Photo)

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, labor activists and other elected officials celebrated two years of a law designed to curtail wage theft.

“Make no mistake: in our city, fast food workers have the right to predictable schedules and Paid Safe and Sick Leave,” stated de Blasio. “No worker should be afraid to exercise their rights, and any corporation that retaliates against workers will be met with the full force of the law.”

Having gone into effect on Nov. 26, 2017, the Fair Workweek Law requires that fast food employers in New York City give workers good faith estimates of when and how much they will work, a predictable work schedule and the opportunity to work newly available shifts before hiring new workers to fill them.

Fast food employers also can’t schedule workers to work a clopening (where workers close the store at night and open it the next day) unless workers consent in writing and are paid a $100 premium to work the shift.

Retail employers also have to give workers advance notice of work schedules and can’t schedule workers for on-call shifts or change their schedules with little notice. Under the law, employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City have to get paid safe and sick leave to employees.

“Wage theft is rampant in New York, to the tune of $1 billion per year, so bringing these five Queens McDonald’s restaurants to justice is a real step towards ending the systemic abuse of workers in our city,” sated New York State Senator and Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos. “These fast food workers toiled shift after shift to feed their families and make ends meet, and have the right to paid time off. Labor law enforcement in the restaurant industry is sorely needed, and I commend Mayor de Blasio and DCWP Commissioner Salas for conducting this investigation and making sure employers in New York City are complying with the Fair Workweek Law.”

On the law‘s two-year anniversary, the activists celebrated good news. Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas announced a settlement with the operator of five McDonald’s locations to resolve the city’s Fair Workweek and Paid Safe and Sick Leave law violations. DCWP’s investigation found that management violated nearly every part of both laws and management retaliated against employees who confronted them and exercised their rights.

Thomas Parker of Star Parker LLC, the owner of those five McDonald’s location, has to pay $155,000 in restitution to their workers.

32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said that is an example of Fair WorkWeek legislation working.

“The Fair Workweek Law is an important and groundbreaking protection for workers who should be able to have the opportunity to get full-time hours and a stable, predictable schedule, if the employers follow the law,” stated Bragg. “Violations of the law by fast food companies, like McDonald’s, are hurting local communities by making it hard for fast food workers to plan their lives. We applaud the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their steadfast enforcement of the law.”

Another part of the Fair WorkWeek law requires that the sign “You Have a Right to a Predictable Work Schedule” be visibly posted in the languages that at least 5% of the workers speak.

Since the law went into effect, DCWP has received more than 290 complaints about Fair Workweek, closed 120 investigations, and obtained resolutions requiring more than $1.3 million combined in fines and restitution for workers.

“The de Blasio administration’s strong enforcement of the Fair Workweek and Paid Safe and Sick Leave Laws sends a powerful message to workers that the city has your back and an equally strong message to employers that violating workers’ rights will not be tolerated,” said David R. Jones, president and CEO of the Community Service Society, in a statement. “We commend the city’s actions today to ensure that all workers have reasonable notice of their schedules and paid sick time. These are two essentials for a decent life and fair working conditions, things that most middle class people take for granted, but low-wage workers often lacked prior to the passage of these landmark NYC laws.”