Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill that would help fast-food workers around the five boroughs.
Standing in the City Hall Rotunda surrounded by fast-food employees, elected officials and union leaders, de Blasio announced his intention to sign Fair Workweek legislation later on that day.
Fair Workweek legislation requires managers to give two weeks advanced notice of changes to a worker’s schedule. The legislation also includes a penalty if workers’ schedules are changed at the last minute, places restrictions on “clopenings” (when an employee closes a store at night and comes back the next day to open the store) and gives more hours to full-time workers before hiring part-time employees.
Another piece of related legislation de Blasio signed today was the Fast Food Worker Empowerment Act. This legislation requires employees to honor workers’ requests to deduct individual contributions from their paychecks to not-for-profit organizations that fight on behalf of working people.
These bills had the backing of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City Council Member and Labor Committee Chair I. Daneek Miller and New York City Council Member Brad Lander. Organizations such as the Communication Workers of America, DC 37, Make the Road New York and 32BJ SEIU also backed the bill.
“It’s 2017, in the richest city, in the richest country in the world, and yet, again, it harkens back many decades—the notion that these workers are being treated just like cogs in the machine, rather than being given their human dignity,” said de Blasio. “It’s unbelievable it came to this, and it’s particularly unbelievable it came to this because these are multination corporations who run these fast food restaurants.”
De Blasio continued, “They have their franchises, but they’re part of these vast corporations. They make a huge amount of money. The CEO’s are amongst the highest paid in our nation, and yet look at the disdain for working people, look at the double standard. It could not go on.”
During the news conference in the rotunda, workers and union leaders expressed joy at the mayor and the New York City Council agreeing to this legislation.
“I have no set schedule in my store, and it makes it impossible for me to plan my life and get a second job so I can take care of myself and my daughter,” said Dunkin’ Donuts employee Pierre Metivier at City Hall. “Once these laws are in effect, they will improve the lives of everyone working in the industry.”
“Coming together is a win for fast-food workers and to win for low-wage workers in the City of New York,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “When we fight, we win. When we win for a group of workers, we win for all workers. The Fight for $15 started in New York. This is where it was born. Out of the courage of fast-food workers.”
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry flew into the city to join de Blasio and fast-food workers in the celebration of their victory. She hoped that New York City would be the first domino to fall and other cities would eventually adopt Fair Workweek policies.
“It’s wrong for somebody to work full time in this nation and have to choose between a MetroCard and a phone bill,” said Henry. “That is the essence of the Fight for $15 movement because we are not gonna settle until every city in this nation wakes up like New York City has done and recognizes the power of people coming together and recognizing fairness in our economy.”
While the celebration was mostly jovial, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James sent a verbal warning shot to New York State legislators and elected officials who wanted to crash their party.
“This is about making sure our laws reflect our values,” said James. “We must not allow any force—any forces—in Albany to step in and pre-empt the City Council. We cannot allow any force in Albany to weaken the protections for working people in this city. So we’ve got to say it loud and we’ve got to say it clear. We’ve got to stand and step up and state your declaration and your commitment to working people in the City of New York. And if you do not, then these coalitions, these unions and the working people of New York, of both the city and the state, will rise up.”
James concluded, “It’s all about working people in this city and state and that you must never forget.”