Liz Vladeck (217274)
Credit: Cary Kane Law photo

With Labor Day coming up this weekend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named the first deputy commissioner of the new Office of Labor Policy and Standards.

The mayor appointed labor lawyer and advocate Liz Vladeck as the OLPS’s new deputy commissioner last week.

“I am honored by the confidence that Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Salas have shown in me, and I intend to do everything I can to ensure this new office fulfills its goals to assist in the protection and empowerment of working people in New York City,” said Vladeck in a statement. “The creation of this office and the decision to house it in DCA show the commitment of the mayor, the City Council and the commissioner to fighting inequality in our city. I am thrilled to become part of the team dedicated to realizing that mandate.”

“The first Labor Day was celebrated here in New York City over a hundred years ago, and today we mark another important milestone in our city’s efforts to support working families,” stated de Blasio. “The strong leadership of Commissioner Salas and Deputy Commissioner Vladeck will grow our ability to protect, educate and empower workers across New York City’s five boroughs.” According to the mayor, OLPS will be the city’s “focal point” for the research, advocacy and enforcement of related labor issues in the city. Vladeck, who graduated from Harvard as an undergrad and got her law degree at Columbia Law School, started out as a local and national union organizer focusing on internal union campaign. She also served on the board and executive committee of Jobs with Justice, and worked in Russia during that nation’s labor movement. According to the city, the OLPS will work with the New York City Council to expand labor policy and enforcement work and work with state and federal agencies to make sure workers are aware of their rights. “With Deputy Commissioner Vladeck now at the helm of OLPS and building her team, we are plowing ahead and working toward the office’s goals of advocating on behalf of working families through policy, research and community outreach,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas in a statement. “With the addition of OLPS to DCA’s portfolio of work, we can truly and holistically foster thriving communities by encouraging a fair and equitable marketplace for consumers.”

Other elected officials and labor advocates weighed in on the new appointee.

“Although we have made significant progress over the past several years with the implementation of paid sick leave and commuter benefits laws, a lot more needs to be done so we cannot stop there,” said New York City Council Member and Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Rafael Espinal in a statement. “I am sure that OLPS, under the leadership of Commissioner Salas and Deputy Commissioner Vladeck, will play a vital role in protecting our city’s workers and developing additional creative strategies to empower our city’s workforce.”

The problems of exploitation and abuse in our city’s workplaces will not be easily solved,” stated Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “It will require the best minds and a truly committed team within city government, and the ability to leverage partnerships with community based and labor organizations, as well as workers themselves. Today’s announcement demonstrates that Mayor de Blasio intends to do what it will take.”