A win for fast food workers in New York City. In December, we reported on the introduction to New York’s City Council of landmark legislation in support of fast food workers. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio on Tuesday will sign those bills into law. The rules go into effect in 180 days.
The Fair Work Week and Fast Food Worker Empowerment bills go a long way towards making work more predictable for tens of thousands of employees in New York City. The new laws mandate that employees are notified of their schedules two weeks in advance, and they penalize employers for scheduling “clopenings,” or back-to-back shifts at night and in the morning. They also penalize the practice of on-call scheduling in retail stores.
Perhaps most significantly, the new rules provide “path to full time” protections for workers. That means when a shift opens up at a restaurant, schedulers must offer it to existing employees before hiring new part-time employees. Advocates hope this will lead to more full-time employees and thus more people with federally mandated employer-sponsored benefits.
The new two-week scheduling rule will make it more possible for some workers to juggle the logistics of searching for second jobs. “Just setting up interviews is difficult because sometimes I have to cancel them when I get a call to work,” said a Dunkin’ Donuts employee identified as “Pierre,” in a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s hard to say no to a last-minute shift when it’s the only income I have coming in.”
The new rules also require employers to allow workers to contribute money directly from their paychecks to non-profit advocacy groups (these aren’t quite unions, but they do lots of the same things, like edcuate workers on their rights and provide a sounding board for common complaints). In the past, fast food employees have struggled to donate to those groups because they don’t always have bank accounts and can’t always be present to donate cash in person. This new legislation essentially provides a pathway for funding these efforts, should workers choose to opt in.
“It’s 2017 in the richest city in the richest country in the world,” DiBlasio said at the press conference. “And yet … These workers are being treated like cogs in a machine.” Evidently, the mayor couldn’t resist a little dig at the White House. “It’s the kind of thing you’d like to believe would be handled at the national level. It’s the kind of thing you’d like to see our country confront head on,” he added. “But we have no such illusions right now, and it’s time for cities all over the country to take matters into our own hands and stand up for working people.”