Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/grocery-worker-retention-act 2017-10-19T14:51:29+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com The Week That Was in New York Politics, Jan. 18-22 2016-01-22T19:15:07+00:00 2016-01-22T19:15:07+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6109:the-week-that-was-in-new-york-politics-jan-18-22 Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" width="600" height="409" alt="week in review bus readers" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 22</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>City Council Members and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, via <a href="https://twitter.com/ydanis/status/690037548899405824" target="_blank">@ydanis</a>; City Council Member Donovan Richards, Gov. Cuomo, Bronx BP Diaz Jr., via <a href="https://twitter.com/DRichards13/status/690397247083810816" target="_blank">@drichards13</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cms_schneiderman_peace.jpg" width="400" height="227" alt="cms schneiderman peace" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/richards_diaz_jr_cuomo_rebny.jpg" width="400" height="300" alt="richards diaz jr cuomo rebny" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong><br /><strong>1. $82 Billion Budget:</strong> On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">$82.1 billion preliminary budget</a> for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1. De Blasio didn’t outline any major new initiatives, but rather stressed fiscal responsibility, building reserves, and warned of possible trouble ahead, citing concerns over the stock market and the possibility of <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/01/8588827/de-blasio-laying-out-821b-budget-warns-trouble-ahead" target="_blank">losing state aid</a>. The budget includes over <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/01/8588827/de-blasio-laying-out-821b-budget-warns-trouble-ahead" target="_blank">$740 million</a> in new agency spending, mostly for programs de Blasio previously announced, like plans to address the homelessness crisis. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6100-what-to-watch-for-as-city-budget-season-begins" target="_blank">What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. 421-A:</strong> Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio seem to have found something they agree upon after stakeholders <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-exemption-hits-state-deadline-1452908946" target="_blank">failed to reach a deal</a> necessary to renew the 421-a tax abatement program, which incentivizes affordable housing development. After 421-a expired last Friday, Mayor de Blasio said he is “<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-seek-tax-break-add-affordable-housing-article-1.2501236" target="_blank">deeply disappointed</a>” and intends to push the issue in Albany this session. Cuomo has also expressed disappointment over the expiration and agrees that it was critical to the city’s affordable housing plan, though many blame Cuomo for its end. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Grocery Worker Retention Act:</strong> On Tuesday, the City Council passed the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Retention Act</a>, which requires new owners of large grocery stores to retain the workforce that existed under the store’s previous ownership for 90 days. The bill, which passed 40-7, sparked a rare level of dissent on the City Council floor, with several Council members explaining their opposition to the bill during the vote. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Horse-Carriage Controversy:</strong> On Sunday, the Mayor and the City Council Speaker announced an agreement with Central Park <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/nyregion/new-york-city-announces-deal-on-carriage-horses-in-central-park.html">horse-carriage drivers</a> to reduce the number of horses and restrict them to Central Park, where they will eventually be housed in stables created by the city. Yet the plan has been met with widespread criticism, with <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160119/upper-east-side/pedicab-industry-will-be-eliminated-by-citys-horse-carriage-deal-drivers" target="_blank">pedicab drivers</a> (whose area of operation would be restricted under the deal) protesting outside City Hall, carriage drivers <a href="http://observer.com/2016/01/de-blasio-carriage-horse-deal-ticks-everybody-off/" target="_blank">vowing to fight the plan</a>, and <a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/new-york/bill-de-blasio-s-carriage-horse-deal-draws-more-fire-1.11342670" target="_blank">park advocates</a> criticizing the use of park land to build stables for a private industry. The City Council held a lengthy and contentious hearing on the new plan on Friday, with even the carriage drivers now saying they are unhappy with the deal as written - its future is unclear.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Cuomo’s Ethics Package:</strong> In Albany on Tuesday, leaders from three good government groups (Citizens Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Common Cause) gave their <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">evaluation of ethics proposals</a> Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">included</a> in his State of the State and budget address last week. They called for follow through and pushed the governor to add budget transparency to the list. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:</strong><br /><strong>$82.1 billion</strong> preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Thursday, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>231</strong> people killed in traffic crashes in 2015, down from 257 in 2014, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160119/civic-center/vision-zero-by-numbers" target="_blank">DNAinfo</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>95</strong> horses will remain in Central Park under the much-debated deal between the city and the carriage-drivers union, down from about 220, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/nyregion/new-york-city-announces-deal-on-carriage-horses-in-central-park.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$176</strong> million in federal funding will be given to New York City to build a new flood protection system around lower Manhattan, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/nyregion/new-york-city-to-get-176-million-from-us-for-storm-protections.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$79,223</strong> yearly pension is still being collected by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, despite being convicted on federal corruption charges last November, the state comptroller's office <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160120/financial-district/sheldon-silver-getting-79223-year-pension-state-comptroller-" target="_blank">confirmed</a> Wednesday.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$5 million</strong> has been given to Governor Cuomo from contributors over the past six months, all while he continues to call for closing the “LLC loophole,” the <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Cuomo-adds-5M-amid-reform-talk-6770171.php" target="_blank">Times Union</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong><br /><strong>It was a good week for</strong> Westchester County district attorney Janet DiFiore, who was <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2016/01/21/janet-difiore-confirmed-as-state-s-new-chief-judge.html" target="_blank">unanimously confirmed</a> as the new chief judge of the state Court of Appeals this week.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Success Academy Charter Schools leader Eva Moskowitz, as the parents of 13 children have <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/civil-rights-complaint-filed-against-success-academy-1453386320" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the city’s largest charter school network, claiming Success Academy discriminated against students with disabilities and pushed some students out of the schools. it is the 22nd lawsuit filed against Success Academies, Moskowitz said Friday morning during a speech.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong><br /><strong>Around this time 232 years ago</strong>, on January 21, 1784, the state legislature met for the first time at City Hall. New York City remained the <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2016/01/21/january-21st-in-nyc-history.html" target="_blank">state capital</a> until 1796, when Albany was chosen as the new capital.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 108 years ago</strong>, on January 21, 1908, New York City <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9503E1DD113EE033A25752C2A9679C946997D6CF" target="_blank">passed</a> the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sullivan_Ordinance" target="_blank">Sullivan Ordinance</a>, making it illegal for women to smoke in public places. One woman spent a day in jail for breaking the law after refusing to pay the fine. Two weeks later, Mayor George McClellan Jr. vetoed the measure.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6106-dangerousness-aspect-of-cuomos-bail-plan-troubles-reformers" target="_blank">'Dangerousness' Aspect of Cuomo's Bail Plan Troubles Reformers</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6097-once-rife-with-problems-city-budget-process-now-a-model-for-state-system-in-need-of-reform" target="_blank">Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6081-concerns-of-voter-fatigue-as-new-york-schedules-four-2016-election-days" target="_blank">Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days</a>, by Meg O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6100-what-to-watch-for-as-city-budget-season-begins" target="_blank">What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6102-overdue-doe-capital-plan-to-be-released" target="_blank">Overdue DOE Capital Plan To Be Released</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6099-cuomos-preparatory-commission-should-prioritize-fixing-concon-process" target="_blank">Cuomo’s Preparatory Commission Should Prioritize Fixing ConCon Process</a>, by J.H. Snider (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6101-new-yorks-education-policy-in-historic-disarray" target="_blank">New York's Education Policy in Historic Disarray</a>, by Bruce W. Deartsyne (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6105-the-wisdom-of-primaries" target="_blank">The Wisdom of Primaries</a>, by Theodore Hamm (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6095-doe-language-access-expansion-builds-bridges-to-city-families" target="_blank">DOE Language Access Expansion Builds Bridges to City Families</a>, by Steven Choi (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6094-move-martin-luther-king-day-to-november" target="_blank">Move Martin Luther King Day to November</a>, by John Martin (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6108-stand-against-racism-protect-asian-american-womens-health" target="_blank">Stand Against Racism, Protect Asian-American Women's Health</a>, by Margaret Chin and Miriam Yeung (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong><br />On the anniversary of Citizens United, Senator Liz Krueger and Anthony Cresswell, an organizer with the New York for Democracy Coalition, appeared on the Capitol Pressroom on WCNY to make the case for a constitutional amendment that would <a href="https://www.wcny.org/jan-21-2016-asm-morelle-asw-patricia-fahy-rick-timbs-citizens-united-anniversary/" target="_blank">overturn Citizens United</a> and related cases.</p> <p dir="ltr">Continuing the conversation on the rising number of reported rapes in New York City and what the city can do to prevent sexual assault, Kathleen Basile of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss the “buddy system” and other, more effective <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/ondemand/566267" target="_blank">methods of assault prevention</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan spoke about Mayor de Blasio’s <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/city-hall-newsmakers/2016/01/22/ny1-online--first-deputy-mayor--budget-director-give-inside-look-at-mayor-s-budget-proposal.html" target="_blank">$82.1 billion budget proposal</a> with Errol Louis on NY1’s Inside City Hall.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/week_in_review_bus_readers.jpg" width="600" height="409" alt="week in review bus readers" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><a href="http://blog.mcny.org/2012/04/24/a-ride-on-the-subway-in-1946-with-stanley-kubrick/" target="_blank">photo</a>: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York</span></p> <hr /> <p>Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday January 22</p> <p><strong>PHOTO OF THE WEEK:&nbsp;</strong>City Council Members and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, via <a href="https://twitter.com/ydanis/status/690037548899405824" target="_blank">@ydanis</a>; City Council Member Donovan Richards, Gov. Cuomo, Bronx BP Diaz Jr., via <a href="https://twitter.com/DRichards13/status/690397247083810816" target="_blank">@drichards13</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cms_schneiderman_peace.jpg" width="400" height="227" alt="cms schneiderman peace" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/richards_diaz_jr_cuomo_rebny.jpg" width="400" height="300" alt="richards diaz jr cuomo rebny" /></p> <p><strong>TOP FIVE STORIES OF THE WEEK:</strong><br /><strong>1. $82 Billion Budget:</strong> On Thursday, Mayor de Blasio unveiled his <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">$82.1 billion preliminary budget</a> for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1. De Blasio didn’t outline any major new initiatives, but rather stressed fiscal responsibility, building reserves, and warned of possible trouble ahead, citing concerns over the stock market and the possibility of <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/01/8588827/de-blasio-laying-out-821b-budget-warns-trouble-ahead" target="_blank">losing state aid</a>. The budget includes over <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2016/01/8588827/de-blasio-laying-out-821b-budget-warns-trouble-ahead" target="_blank">$740 million</a> in new agency spending, mostly for programs de Blasio previously announced, like plans to address the homelessness crisis. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6100-what-to-watch-for-as-city-budget-season-begins" target="_blank">What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. 421-A:</strong> Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio seem to have found something they agree upon after stakeholders <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-exemption-hits-state-deadline-1452908946" target="_blank">failed to reach a deal</a> necessary to renew the 421-a tax abatement program, which incentivizes affordable housing development. After 421-a expired last Friday, Mayor de Blasio said he is “<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-seek-tax-break-add-affordable-housing-article-1.2501236" target="_blank">deeply disappointed</a>” and intends to push the issue in Albany this session. Cuomo has also expressed disappointment over the expiration and agrees that it was critical to the city’s affordable housing plan, though many blame Cuomo for its end. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Grocery Worker Retention Act:</strong> On Tuesday, the City Council passed the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Retention Act</a>, which requires new owners of large grocery stores to retain the workforce that existed under the store’s previous ownership for 90 days. The bill, which passed 40-7, sparked a rare level of dissent on the City Council floor, with several Council members explaining their opposition to the bill during the vote. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. Horse-Carriage Controversy:</strong> On Sunday, the Mayor and the City Council Speaker announced an agreement with Central Park <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/nyregion/new-york-city-announces-deal-on-carriage-horses-in-central-park.html">horse-carriage drivers</a> to reduce the number of horses and restrict them to Central Park, where they will eventually be housed in stables created by the city. Yet the plan has been met with widespread criticism, with <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160119/upper-east-side/pedicab-industry-will-be-eliminated-by-citys-horse-carriage-deal-drivers" target="_blank">pedicab drivers</a> (whose area of operation would be restricted under the deal) protesting outside City Hall, carriage drivers <a href="http://observer.com/2016/01/de-blasio-carriage-horse-deal-ticks-everybody-off/" target="_blank">vowing to fight the plan</a>, and <a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/new-york/bill-de-blasio-s-carriage-horse-deal-draws-more-fire-1.11342670" target="_blank">park advocates</a> criticizing the use of park land to build stables for a private industry. The City Council held a lengthy and contentious hearing on the new plan on Friday, with even the carriage drivers now saying they are unhappy with the deal as written - its future is unclear.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. Cuomo’s Ethics Package:</strong> In Albany on Tuesday, leaders from three good government groups (Citizens Union, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Common Cause) gave their <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">evaluation of ethics proposals</a> Governor Cuomo <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6087-cuomo-unveils-ethics-plan-to-questions-of-follow-through" target="_blank">included</a> in his State of the State and budget address last week. They called for follow through and pushed the governor to add budget transparency to the list. [Read: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THIS WEEK’S NUMBERS:</strong><br /><strong>$82.1 billion</strong> preliminary budget unveiled by Mayor de Blasio on Thursday, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>231</strong> people killed in traffic crashes in 2015, down from 257 in 2014, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160119/civic-center/vision-zero-by-numbers" target="_blank">DNAinfo</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>95</strong> horses will remain in Central Park under the much-debated deal between the city and the carriage-drivers union, down from about 220, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/18/nyregion/new-york-city-announces-deal-on-carriage-horses-in-central-park.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$176</strong> million in federal funding will be given to New York City to build a new flood protection system around lower Manhattan, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/19/nyregion/new-york-city-to-get-176-million-from-us-for-storm-protections.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$79,223</strong> yearly pension is still being collected by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, despite being convicted on federal corruption charges last November, the state comptroller's office <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160120/financial-district/sheldon-silver-getting-79223-year-pension-state-comptroller-" target="_blank">confirmed</a> Wednesday.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>$5 million</strong> has been given to Governor Cuomo from contributors over the past six months, all while he continues to call for closing the “LLC loophole,” the <a href="http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-local/article/Cuomo-adds-5M-amid-reform-talk-6770171.php" target="_blank">Times Union</a> reports.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE GLORY AND THE GOAT:</strong><br /><strong>It was a good week for</strong> Westchester County district attorney Janet DiFiore, who was <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2016/01/21/janet-difiore-confirmed-as-state-s-new-chief-judge.html" target="_blank">unanimously confirmed</a> as the new chief judge of the state Court of Appeals this week.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>It was a bad week for</strong> Success Academy Charter Schools leader Eva Moskowitz, as the parents of 13 children have <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/civil-rights-complaint-filed-against-success-academy-1453386320" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the city’s largest charter school network, claiming Success Academy discriminated against students with disabilities and pushed some students out of the schools. it is the 22nd lawsuit filed against Success Academies, Moskowitz said Friday morning during a speech.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>THE FLASH:</strong><br /><strong>Around this time 232 years ago</strong>, on January 21, 1784, the state legislature met for the first time at City Hall. New York City remained the <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2016/01/21/january-21st-in-nyc-history.html" target="_blank">state capital</a> until 1796, when Albany was chosen as the new capital.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Around this time 108 years ago</strong>, on January 21, 1908, New York City <a href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9503E1DD113EE033A25752C2A9679C946997D6CF" target="_blank">passed</a> the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sullivan_Ordinance" target="_blank">Sullivan Ordinance</a>, making it illegal for women to smoke in public places. One woman spent a day in jail for breaking the law after refusing to pay the fine. Two weeks later, Mayor George McClellan Jr. vetoed the measure.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>GOTHAM GAZETTE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6106-dangerousness-aspect-of-cuomos-bail-plan-troubles-reformers" target="_blank">'Dangerousness' Aspect of Cuomo's Bail Plan Troubles Reformers</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6107-de-blasio-releases-cautious-82-billion-preliminary-budget" target="_blank">De Blasio Releases Cautious $82 Billion Preliminary Budget</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6097-once-rife-with-problems-city-budget-process-now-a-model-for-state-system-in-need-of-reform" target="_blank">Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6098-de-blasio-calls-for-albany-to-make-right-on-program-at-center-of-rift-with-governor" target="_blank">De Blasio Calls for Albany to 'Make Right' on Program at Center of Rift with Governor</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6081-concerns-of-voter-fatigue-as-new-york-schedules-four-2016-election-days" target="_blank">Concerns of ‘Voter Fatigue’ as New York Schedules Four 2016 Election Days</a>, by Meg O’Connor</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6103-grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent" target="_blank">Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent</a>, by Ben Max</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6104-good-government-groups-rate-cuomos-ethics-package" target="_blank">Good Government Groups Rate Cuomo's Ethics Package</a>, by David Howard King</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6100-what-to-watch-for-as-city-budget-season-begins" target="_blank">What to Watch for as City Budget Season Begins</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6102-overdue-doe-capital-plan-to-be-released" target="_blank">Overdue DOE Capital Plan To Be Released</a>, by Samar Khurshid</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6099-cuomos-preparatory-commission-should-prioritize-fixing-concon-process" target="_blank">Cuomo’s Preparatory Commission Should Prioritize Fixing ConCon Process</a>, by J.H. Snider (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6101-new-yorks-education-policy-in-historic-disarray" target="_blank">New York's Education Policy in Historic Disarray</a>, by Bruce W. Deartsyne (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6105-the-wisdom-of-primaries" target="_blank">The Wisdom of Primaries</a>, by Theodore Hamm (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6095-doe-language-access-expansion-builds-bridges-to-city-families" target="_blank">DOE Language Access Expansion Builds Bridges to City Families</a>, by Steven Choi (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6094-move-martin-luther-king-day-to-november" target="_blank">Move Martin Luther King Day to November</a>, by John Martin (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/6108-stand-against-racism-protect-asian-american-womens-health" target="_blank">Stand Against Racism, Protect Asian-American Women's Health</a>, by Margaret Chin and Miriam Yeung (opinion)</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MORE FOR THE WEEKEND:</strong><br />On the anniversary of Citizens United, Senator Liz Krueger and Anthony Cresswell, an organizer with the New York for Democracy Coalition, appeared on the Capitol Pressroom on WCNY to make the case for a constitutional amendment that would <a href="https://www.wcny.org/jan-21-2016-asm-morelle-asw-patricia-fahy-rick-timbs-citizens-united-anniversary/" target="_blank">overturn Citizens United</a> and related cases.</p> <p dir="ltr">Continuing the conversation on the rising number of reported rapes in New York City and what the city can do to prevent sexual assault, Kathleen Basile of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control appeared on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC to discuss the “buddy system” and other, more effective <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/#/ondemand/566267" target="_blank">methods of assault prevention</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and City Budget Director Dean Fuleihan spoke about Mayor de Blasio’s <a href="http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/city-hall-newsmakers/2016/01/22/ny1-online--first-deputy-mayor--budget-director-give-inside-look-at-mayor-s-budget-proposal.html" target="_blank">$82.1 billion budget proposal</a> with Errol Louis on NY1’s Inside City Hall.</p> <p><em>***<br />NOTE TO READERS: we hope you enjoy this new Gotham Gazette weekly feature - please share it if you do; on Twitter, use our handle&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a>.</em></p> <p><em>If you have feedback on this feature for us, you can email editor Ben Max:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com"></a><a href="mailto:bmax@gothamgazette.com">bmax@gothamgazette.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Watch Sunday evening for our latest Week Ahead in New York Politics, which gives you a preview of key issues and events to be aware of for the week about to start. In the meantime, catch up on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government" target="_blank">the latest original reporting from Gotham Gazette here</a>. And have a great weekend!</em></p> <p><em>***</em><br />by Meg O'Connor and Ben Max</p> Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent 2016-01-20T20:05:18+00:00 2016-01-20T20:05:18+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6103:grocery-worker-bill-provokes-rare-level-of-council-dissent Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/18846091244_5601781e86_z.jpg" alt="MMV pathmark" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito on 125th Street (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>When a bill comes to the floor of the New York City Council, it is guaranteed to pass. And so it was on Tuesday, when the Council voted through the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which mandates that new owners of large grocery stores maintain employment of the store workforce for 90 days. But while most bills pass unanimously and some garner only two or three dissenting votes from the Council's three-member Republican caucus, the GWRA garnered seven "no" votes.</p> <p>Five of the Council's 47 Democrats and two of the three Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 40-7 as three members were absent and there is one vacant Council seat after a recent resignation. (A Gotham Gazette <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5473-the-new-city-council-whats-changed-and-what-hasnt-in-2014" target="_blank">report</a> previously found that in 2014, six was the most "no" votes received by any bill passing through the Council.)</p> <p>The fact that several Council members took time to explain opposition to the bill during the vote gave a rare semblance of debate to what is typically an atmosphere of near or full unanimity. Even among the dissenters, reasons varied, though most called the bill government overreach into the private sector. For the overwhelming majority who voted in favor of the bill, the rationale is that the grocery industry is in the midst of an especially volatile period that has had severe consequences for many working class New Yorkers and their families.</p> <p>"I believe this is a well-intentioned effort and I have great respect for the bill's sponsor," Council Member Dan Garodnick said Wednesday, leading to his "no" vote, and referring to Council Member Daneek Miller. "But with this bill we are interjecting local government into private enterprise in a way that we should not be doing. We are going too far."</p> <p>Council members supporting the bill, led by Miller, explained and defended the bill as necessary and pointed to the fact that the city has taken such measures before, namely to protect building service workers.</p> <p>After defending the bill on the Council floor Tuesday, Council Member Brad Lander took to Twitter Wednesday morning to respond to criticism of the GWRA by grocery store owners in a Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160119/BLOGS04/160119848" target="_blank">article</a>. Lander <a href="https://twitter.com/bradlander/status/689806467436826624" target="_blank">wrote</a>, "We have the same modest "worker retention" law in place for building service workers, and no business collapses have been reported."</p> <p>During a press conference before the vote, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed to that precedent and said that the Council may be looking at other industries as well. "There is a similar bill that we passed several years ago when it comes to service workers," she said. "And we wanted to move this very quickly and that doesn't mean we're not looking at other industries as well."</p> <p>"We needed to move this very quickly because of the recent closures and bankruptcy and what some of these workers were going through," Mark-Viverito continued, pointing to examples in her northern Manhattan district. She added that just because this grocery store bill was being passed, "doesn't mean that we're not looking at other industries, 'cause we are."</p> <p>On the Council floor, Garodnick said that all workers should have rights, including the right to unionize, and that the Council should support efforts to unionize and fight for fair wages and benefits. He went on, though, to analyze the bill's provisions, asking rhetorically, "Why...would we protect workers only for 90 days? Why not six months? Or a year? Or more? Why are we limiting ourselves to this industry? Why not protect the workers in our local pizza shop? Or even the financial services industry? If you buy a supermarket with 100 workers and you believe that you can make it survive and make a profit, and you only need 90 workers, we should let you do that, without interference."</p> <p>Joining Garodnick in casting "no" votes were fellow Democratic Council Members David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, James Vacca, and Antonio Reynoso; as well as Republicans Joseph Borelli and Steven Matteo. The Council's other Republican member, Eric Ulrich, was a co-sponsor of the bill and voted in favor. Reynoso said that the bill did little for people in his district, where the "supermarkets" are local bodegas, often owned by immigrants struggling to get by.</p> <p>While Garodnick's 'overreach' critiques were echoed by others who voted against the bill - and even acknowledged by some who voted for it - 40 Council members supported the bill. Council members from Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx spoke of the negative consequences of losing supermarkets in their districts or from the mass layoffs that disrupted communities after a supermarket sale.</p> <p>Council Member Danny Dromm, of Queens, said, "I have seen what happens when these small supermarkets are closed...we had this situation in Jackson Heights about two years ago when one day, two weeks before Christmas, employees arrived to find out they had been locked out of the door, and when the new owner came in and took over the supermarket, he would not rehire the workers, even though they had not done anything wrong. I totally agree with this legislation, nothing in this law says that the workers have to stay on beyond the 90 days."</p> <p>At the press conference before the full Council meeting, Mark-Viverito and Miller positioned the bill as an important step in the Council's ongoing work to protect workers. "This City Council is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of all workers in our city," Mark-Viverito said, "and with this legislation, we're taking another step toward that goal. Grocery store employees provide a valuable service to their community - we still have too many food deserts across the city of New York, my community is one of them. And at a minimum, these workers should have an opportunity to prove their worth before losing their jobs to changes in ownership."</p> <p>The Council has taken an aggressive stance in regulating workplace and workforce issues, including expanding paid sick leave and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">moving through legislation to protect freelancers</a>.</p> <p>In outlining the GWRA, Council Member Miller said, "Now keep in mind these are not small bodegas or smaller stores, these are at least 10,000 feet of sales, not storage, not parking. So this is significant space and we need to protect workers, but more importantly, protect communities."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">The language of the bill</a> defines which employees and what stores are covered:</p> <p>"The term "eligible grocery employee" means any person employed by a grocery establishment subject to a change in control, and who has been employed by such establishment on a full-time or a part-time basis for a period of at least six months prior to the effective date of the change in control; provided that such term shall not include persons who are managerial, supervisory or confidential employees or persons who on average regularly worked fewer than eight hours per week during such period."</p> <p>"The term "grocery establishment" means any retail store in the city of New York in which the sale of food for off-site consumption comprises fifty percent or more of store sales and that exceeds 10,000 square feet in size, exclusive of any storage space, loading dock, food preparation space or eating area designated for the consumption of prepared food."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill at an upcoming ceremony.</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/18846091244_5601781e86_z.jpg" alt="MMV pathmark" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Speaker Mark-Viverito on 125th Street (photo: William Alatriste)&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p>When a bill comes to the floor of the New York City Council, it is guaranteed to pass. And so it was on Tuesday, when the Council voted through the Grocery Worker Retention Act, which mandates that new owners of large grocery stores maintain employment of the store workforce for 90 days. But while most bills pass unanimously and some garner only two or three dissenting votes from the Council's three-member Republican caucus, the GWRA garnered seven "no" votes.</p> <p>Five of the Council's 47 Democrats and two of the three Republicans voted against the bill, which passed 40-7 as three members were absent and there is one vacant Council seat after a recent resignation. (A Gotham Gazette <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5473-the-new-city-council-whats-changed-and-what-hasnt-in-2014" target="_blank">report</a> previously found that in 2014, six was the most "no" votes received by any bill passing through the Council.)</p> <p>The fact that several Council members took time to explain opposition to the bill during the vote gave a rare semblance of debate to what is typically an atmosphere of near or full unanimity. Even among the dissenters, reasons varied, though most called the bill government overreach into the private sector. For the overwhelming majority who voted in favor of the bill, the rationale is that the grocery industry is in the midst of an especially volatile period that has had severe consequences for many working class New Yorkers and their families.</p> <p>"I believe this is a well-intentioned effort and I have great respect for the bill's sponsor," Council Member Dan Garodnick said Wednesday, leading to his "no" vote, and referring to Council Member Daneek Miller. "But with this bill we are interjecting local government into private enterprise in a way that we should not be doing. We are going too far."</p> <p>Council members supporting the bill, led by Miller, explained and defended the bill as necessary and pointed to the fact that the city has taken such measures before, namely to protect building service workers.</p> <p>After defending the bill on the Council floor Tuesday, Council Member Brad Lander took to Twitter Wednesday morning to respond to criticism of the GWRA by grocery store owners in a Crain's New York Business <a href="http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160119/BLOGS04/160119848" target="_blank">article</a>. Lander <a href="https://twitter.com/bradlander/status/689806467436826624" target="_blank">wrote</a>, "We have the same modest "worker retention" law in place for building service workers, and no business collapses have been reported."</p> <p>During a press conference before the vote, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed to that precedent and said that the Council may be looking at other industries as well. "There is a similar bill that we passed several years ago when it comes to service workers," she said. "And we wanted to move this very quickly and that doesn't mean we're not looking at other industries as well."</p> <p>"We needed to move this very quickly because of the recent closures and bankruptcy and what some of these workers were going through," Mark-Viverito continued, pointing to examples in her northern Manhattan district. She added that just because this grocery store bill was being passed, "doesn't mean that we're not looking at other industries, 'cause we are."</p> <p>On the Council floor, Garodnick said that all workers should have rights, including the right to unionize, and that the Council should support efforts to unionize and fight for fair wages and benefits. He went on, though, to analyze the bill's provisions, asking rhetorically, "Why...would we protect workers only for 90 days? Why not six months? Or a year? Or more? Why are we limiting ourselves to this industry? Why not protect the workers in our local pizza shop? Or even the financial services industry? If you buy a supermarket with 100 workers and you believe that you can make it survive and make a profit, and you only need 90 workers, we should let you do that, without interference."</p> <p>Joining Garodnick in casting "no" votes were fellow Democratic Council Members David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, James Vacca, and Antonio Reynoso; as well as Republicans Joseph Borelli and Steven Matteo. The Council's other Republican member, Eric Ulrich, was a co-sponsor of the bill and voted in favor. Reynoso said that the bill did little for people in his district, where the "supermarkets" are local bodegas, often owned by immigrants struggling to get by.</p> <p>While Garodnick's 'overreach' critiques were echoed by others who voted against the bill - and even acknowledged by some who voted for it - 40 Council members supported the bill. Council members from Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx spoke of the negative consequences of losing supermarkets in their districts or from the mass layoffs that disrupted communities after a supermarket sale.</p> <p>Council Member Danny Dromm, of Queens, said, "I have seen what happens when these small supermarkets are closed...we had this situation in Jackson Heights about two years ago when one day, two weeks before Christmas, employees arrived to find out they had been locked out of the door, and when the new owner came in and took over the supermarket, he would not rehire the workers, even though they had not done anything wrong. I totally agree with this legislation, nothing in this law says that the workers have to stay on beyond the 90 days."</p> <p>At the press conference before the full Council meeting, Mark-Viverito and Miller positioned the bill as an important step in the Council's ongoing work to protect workers. "This City Council is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of all workers in our city," Mark-Viverito said, "and with this legislation, we're taking another step toward that goal. Grocery store employees provide a valuable service to their community - we still have too many food deserts across the city of New York, my community is one of them. And at a minimum, these workers should have an opportunity to prove their worth before losing their jobs to changes in ownership."</p> <p>The Council has taken an aggressive stance in regulating workplace and workforce issues, including expanding paid sick leave and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5971-city-council-developing-new-protections-for-workers-in-gig-economy" target="_blank">moving through legislation to protect freelancers</a>.</p> <p>In outlining the GWRA, Council Member Miller said, "Now keep in mind these are not small bodegas or smaller stores, these are at least 10,000 feet of sales, not storage, not parking. So this is significant space and we need to protect workers, but more importantly, protect communities."</p> <p><a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">The language of the bill</a> defines which employees and what stores are covered:</p> <p>"The term "eligible grocery employee" means any person employed by a grocery establishment subject to a change in control, and who has been employed by such establishment on a full-time or a part-time basis for a period of at least six months prior to the effective date of the change in control; provided that such term shall not include persons who are managerial, supervisory or confidential employees or persons who on average regularly worked fewer than eight hours per week during such period."</p> <p>"The term "grocery establishment" means any retail store in the city of New York in which the sale of food for off-site consumption comprises fifty percent or more of store sales and that exceeds 10,000 square feet in size, exclusive of any storage space, loading dock, food preparation space or eating area designated for the consumption of prepared food."</p> <p>Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill at an upcoming ceremony.</p> <p>***<br />by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank">@tweetBenMax</a></p> City Council Takes Aggressive Role in Workplace Issues 2015-10-08T01:14:52+00:00 2015-10-08T01:14:52+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5927:city-council-takes-aggressive-role-in-workplace-issues Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Miller_UFCW.jpg" alt="Miller UFCW" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller &amp; union workers (photo: @IDaneekMiller)</p> <hr /> <p>A slate of recent bills introduced in the New York City Council have a lofty objective indicative of the progressive streak running through city government and raising eyebrows in the business community. Through legislation, the Council is addressing the city's widespread economic disparities by incrementally tackling workforce issues such as wages, workers rights, and access to employment.</p> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito both came to power, there has been one big picture aim: to address income and other forms of inequality. Headline-making moves such as an expansion of paid sick leave came within a few months. Less flashy yet crucial bills followed. In August 2014, the Council passed the mayor's proposal to supplement the wages of school bus drivers employed by private contractors.</p> <p>De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both been called anti-business, and there have been claims of overreach by the mayor and the Council. Business leaders are often loathe to see the hand of government reach further into industry.</p> <p>In recent months, the Council's formidable progressive caucus has done just that, pushing bills that address large-scale and nitty gritty workplace issues, including others in specific industries. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">recently heard a bill </a>aimed at regulating personnel decision in the grocery industry.</p> <p>Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been closely involved. He is currently working with the Freelancers Union to develop legislation that would protect freelancers, and by extension other workers in the on-demand "gig" economy, from wage theft. Modelled on similar protections provided by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General, this "administrative solution with an enforcement option" would protect the likes of writers, graphic designers, Uber drivers, and Handy.com cleaners from being denied their wages and having to go to court to redress grievances.</p> <p>"The economy is constantly evolving," Lander told Gotham Gazette. "Unfortunately it's doing so in the direction of inequality. And it's not only the Council but also the State which is fighting to level the playing field and lift up the floor in terms of wages for workers." (Governor Andrew Cuomo recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">came out </a>with a plan for an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage.)</p> <p>At the city level, Lander called the Council's efforts a "thumb on the scale" to help workers have paying jobs. Of course, Lander expects this rebalancing of the relationship between employers and workers to be debated and contested. But he insists that the Council wants to be responsible in implementing changes rather than run roughshod over industry and business interests.</p> <p>For instance, in April this year, the Council passed a bill co-sponsored by Lander that bans employers from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of credit checks. But the Council did make accommodations, Lander said, after consulting with business owners and advocates.</p> <p>From a business perspective, however, the Council's efforts have uncomfortable connotations of government intervention in private enterprise.</p> <p>Late last month, two bills were discussed at a hearing of the Council's Committee on Civil Rights but received little attention. The bills aim at prohibiting employment discrimination based on a person's status as a caregiver and at clarifying reasonable accommodations that businesses could make for applicants with disabilities.</p> <p>At the hearing, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde provided written testimony opposing the bills. She stated that the Council was proposing more mandates on employers, driven by special interest advocacy groups that argue based on anecdotal evidence that discrimination and mistreatment of employees and applicants is widespread.</p> <p>"There is no data that justifies new and costly laws and regulations that make it even more difficult to create jobs and grow a business in New York City," Wylde wrote. She also asserted that the bills would drain resources from businesses and make the city less competitive, and that additional Council mandates would accelerate the loss of middle class jobs (she said the city lost 100,000 middle class jobs in the last five years).</p> <p>Data consistently shows that inequality has only risen in the city over the last many years. A report last year by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York showed that there was a significant uptick in the concentration of wealth among the richest 20 percent of New Yorkers between 1990 and 2010. According to the study, the median income of the upper one percent of all household income earned in New York City jumped from $452,000 in 1990 to $717,000 in 2010 while the lower 20 percent of New York City households' earned median income rose from $13,000 in 1990 to $14,000 in 2010.</p> <p>James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, approaches any analysis of labor markets from a historical perspective. He said changes in the labor market in recent years have been unproductive and harmful to workers and to the economy. So there is definitely a need for regulation, he believes.</p> <p>Ideally, he said, regulation would be at the national level and enforced by federal compliance officials. But, with federal action being hampered by an inactive Congress, it has fallen to state and local governments. He called the Council's bent in addressing these issues "reasonable and appropriate."</p> <p>"Businesses tend to oppose any regulation at all. But a lot of history and analysis shows us that informed regulation is good for businesses," Parrott said, insisting that it keeps the competition honest as well.</p> <p>In particular, he referenced the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA), introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller. Miller, a former labor union leader, is now chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">The bill would require</a> large grocery chains to at least temporarily retain the workforce when an ownership change occurs, and then handle any personnel moves on an individual basis after three months.</p> <p>Parrott testified years ago when a similar bill (Local Law 39 from 2002) dealing with building service workers was passed. "I don't see how one could oppose doing that in concept," he said, referring to the opposition from industry representatives who argued feverishly against the GWRA at a hearing two weeks ago.</p> <p>For Council Member Miller, a Queens Democrat, the bill is just another of many measures to remedy an economic imbalance created by three successive Bloomberg terms.<br />"To a certain degree, we have come through 12 years of an administration that for all intents and purposes undermined the value of workers," Miller told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>His bill mandates personnel practice and grants workers legal remedies against unfair termination. It would help both union and non-union workers, he says, and create transparency and protect employees in an industry with a history of exploitation.</p> <p>"Organized or unorganized, in order for the middle class to thrive, we need for people to have a voice," Miller said. "Without that, we see the wage disparity and wage suppression that we've seen in the last decade or two."</p> <p>As expected, industry officials criticized the proposed bill for what they see as an overreaching mandate and even questioned the legal implications of the Council's intervention. But Miller said these objections are not supported by certifiable data and that he is confident the bill will be voted out of the labor committee and brought to a full Council vote.</p> <p>(On a related note, Miller also sponsored a resolution that was approved by the Council in June calling on the state legislature to extend labor protections to farm workers statewide.)</p> <p>"My personal preference is that we can educate and we don't have to legislate," he said.</p> <p>Most of the workforce measures have received wide support from Council members and the mayor. Some have even come from de Blasio or Mark-Viverito themselves.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio issued an executive order that expanded the city's living wage law to thousands of individuals. Mark-Viverito successfully sponsored a bill that passed in June this year requiring car wash businesses to operate under licenses and enforcing stronger safeguards for employees. Another employment bill goes into effect by the end of October: the Fair Chance Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants based on their arrest record or criminal convictions.</p> <p>But wide support does not mean unanimous. There are concerns even within the Council about the scope of legislation. Council minority leader Steve Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, shares his colleagues' interest in improving working conditions but worries about possible harmful unintended consequences.</p> <p>Matteo said he is a "firm believer" in the free market's ability to self-correct and adapt whether in response to consumer demands for healthier food or safer products, or to compete for better employees with higher pay, more benefits, and a better work environment. "Over-reaching government mandates, on the other hand, as many economic studies have shown, can be financially devastating to small businesses and lead to job cuts and fewer new hires," he said.</p> <p>On the other hand, some question how easily workers can adapt to the free market.</p> <p>"Businesses have a better ability to shift their economic resources to adapt to changing economic conditions, more so than workers, especially low-income workers who lack access to education, child care, the basic necessities of life," said Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, who believes that the balance of resources has tilted towards businesses.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera said more people than ever before are working low-wage jobs in the city; even those working full-time are not able to make ends meet and are being treated as if they are expendable.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera praised the City's increased support for worker cooperatives. The Council announced in its budget this year that it will invest an additional $2.1 million in its Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and create 22 new worker cooperatives.</p> <p>"Government does need to step in and provide protection," he said. It's a sentiment that Council Member Lander echoes: "Looking to give people a fair shot is part of our job," he said.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/Miller_UFCW.jpg" alt="Miller UFCW" width="600" height="338" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller &amp; union workers (photo: @IDaneekMiller)</p> <hr /> <p>A slate of recent bills introduced in the New York City Council have a lofty objective indicative of the progressive streak running through city government and raising eyebrows in the business community. Through legislation, the Council is addressing the city's widespread economic disparities by incrementally tackling workforce issues such as wages, workers rights, and access to employment.</p> <p>Since Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito both came to power, there has been one big picture aim: to address income and other forms of inequality. Headline-making moves such as an expansion of paid sick leave came within a few months. Less flashy yet crucial bills followed. In August 2014, the Council passed the mayor's proposal to supplement the wages of school bus drivers employed by private contractors.</p> <p>De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both been called anti-business, and there have been claims of overreach by the mayor and the Council. Business leaders are often loathe to see the hand of government reach further into industry.</p> <p>In recent months, the Council's formidable progressive caucus has done just that, pushing bills that address large-scale and nitty gritty workplace issues, including others in specific industries. The Council <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">recently heard a bill </a>aimed at regulating personnel decision in the grocery industry.</p> <p>Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been closely involved. He is currently working with the Freelancers Union to develop legislation that would protect freelancers, and by extension other workers in the on-demand "gig" economy, from wage theft. Modelled on similar protections provided by the state Department of Labor and the Attorney General, this "administrative solution with an enforcement option" would protect the likes of writers, graphic designers, Uber drivers, and Handy.com cleaners from being denied their wages and having to go to court to redress grievances.</p> <p>"The economy is constantly evolving," Lander told Gotham Gazette. "Unfortunately it's doing so in the direction of inequality. And it's not only the Council but also the State which is fighting to level the playing field and lift up the floor in terms of wages for workers." (Governor Andrew Cuomo recently <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5923-progressive-critics-largely-convinced-by-cuomos-wage-push" target="_blank">came out </a>with a plan for an eventual $15 per hour minimum wage.)</p> <p>At the city level, Lander called the Council's efforts a "thumb on the scale" to help workers have paying jobs. Of course, Lander expects this rebalancing of the relationship between employers and workers to be debated and contested. But he insists that the Council wants to be responsible in implementing changes rather than run roughshod over industry and business interests.</p> <p>For instance, in April this year, the Council passed a bill co-sponsored by Lander that bans employers from discriminating in hiring decisions on the basis of credit checks. But the Council did make accommodations, Lander said, after consulting with business owners and advocates.</p> <p>From a business perspective, however, the Council's efforts have uncomfortable connotations of government intervention in private enterprise.</p> <p>Late last month, two bills were discussed at a hearing of the Council's Committee on Civil Rights but received little attention. The bills aim at prohibiting employment discrimination based on a person's status as a caregiver and at clarifying reasonable accommodations that businesses could make for applicants with disabilities.</p> <p>At the hearing, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City Kathryn Wylde provided written testimony opposing the bills. She stated that the Council was proposing more mandates on employers, driven by special interest advocacy groups that argue based on anecdotal evidence that discrimination and mistreatment of employees and applicants is widespread.</p> <p>"There is no data that justifies new and costly laws and regulations that make it even more difficult to create jobs and grow a business in New York City," Wylde wrote. She also asserted that the bills would drain resources from businesses and make the city less competitive, and that additional Council mandates would accelerate the loss of middle class jobs (she said the city lost 100,000 middle class jobs in the last five years).</p> <p>Data consistently shows that inequality has only risen in the city over the last many years. A report last year by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York showed that there was a significant uptick in the concentration of wealth among the richest 20 percent of New Yorkers between 1990 and 2010. According to the study, the median income of the upper one percent of all household income earned in New York City jumped from $452,000 in 1990 to $717,000 in 2010 while the lower 20 percent of New York City households' earned median income rose from $13,000 in 1990 to $14,000 in 2010.</p> <p>James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, approaches any analysis of labor markets from a historical perspective. He said changes in the labor market in recent years have been unproductive and harmful to workers and to the economy. So there is definitely a need for regulation, he believes.</p> <p>Ideally, he said, regulation would be at the national level and enforced by federal compliance officials. But, with federal action being hampered by an inactive Congress, it has fallen to state and local governments. He called the Council's bent in addressing these issues "reasonable and appropriate."</p> <p>"Businesses tend to oppose any regulation at all. But a lot of history and analysis shows us that informed regulation is good for businesses," Parrott said, insisting that it keeps the competition honest as well.</p> <p>In particular, he referenced the Grocery Worker Retention Act (GWRA), introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller. Miller, a former labor union leader, is now chair of the Council's civil service and labor committee. <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5907-city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions" target="_blank">The bill would require</a> large grocery chains to at least temporarily retain the workforce when an ownership change occurs, and then handle any personnel moves on an individual basis after three months.</p> <p>Parrott testified years ago when a similar bill (Local Law 39 from 2002) dealing with building service workers was passed. "I don't see how one could oppose doing that in concept," he said, referring to the opposition from industry representatives who argued feverishly against the GWRA at a hearing two weeks ago.</p> <p>For Council Member Miller, a Queens Democrat, the bill is just another of many measures to remedy an economic imbalance created by three successive Bloomberg terms.<br />"To a certain degree, we have come through 12 years of an administration that for all intents and purposes undermined the value of workers," Miller told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>His bill mandates personnel practice and grants workers legal remedies against unfair termination. It would help both union and non-union workers, he says, and create transparency and protect employees in an industry with a history of exploitation.</p> <p>"Organized or unorganized, in order for the middle class to thrive, we need for people to have a voice," Miller said. "Without that, we see the wage disparity and wage suppression that we've seen in the last decade or two."</p> <p>As expected, industry officials criticized the proposed bill for what they see as an overreaching mandate and even questioned the legal implications of the Council's intervention. But Miller said these objections are not supported by certifiable data and that he is confident the bill will be voted out of the labor committee and brought to a full Council vote.</p> <p>(On a related note, Miller also sponsored a resolution that was approved by the Council in June calling on the state legislature to extend labor protections to farm workers statewide.)</p> <p>"My personal preference is that we can educate and we don't have to legislate," he said.</p> <p>Most of the workforce measures have received wide support from Council members and the mayor. Some have even come from de Blasio or Mark-Viverito themselves.</p> <p>Last year, de Blasio issued an executive order that expanded the city's living wage law to thousands of individuals. Mark-Viverito successfully sponsored a bill that passed in June this year requiring car wash businesses to operate under licenses and enforcing stronger safeguards for employees. Another employment bill goes into effect by the end of October: the Fair Chance Act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants based on their arrest record or criminal convictions.</p> <p>But wide support does not mean unanimous. There are concerns even within the Council about the scope of legislation. Council minority leader Steve Matteo, a Republican from Staten Island, shares his colleagues' interest in improving working conditions but worries about possible harmful unintended consequences.</p> <p>Matteo said he is a "firm believer" in the free market's ability to self-correct and adapt whether in response to consumer demands for healthier food or safer products, or to compete for better employees with higher pay, more benefits, and a better work environment. "Over-reaching government mandates, on the other hand, as many economic studies have shown, can be financially devastating to small businesses and lead to job cuts and fewer new hires," he said.</p> <p>On the other hand, some question how easily workers can adapt to the free market.</p> <p>"Businesses have a better ability to shift their economic resources to adapt to changing economic conditions, more so than workers, especially low-income workers who lack access to education, child care, the basic necessities of life," said Christian Gonzalez-Rivera, research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, who believes that the balance of resources has tilted towards businesses.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera said more people than ever before are working low-wage jobs in the city; even those working full-time are not able to make ends meet and are being treated as if they are expendable.</p> <p>Gonzalez-Rivera praised the City's increased support for worker cooperatives. The Council announced in its budget this year that it will invest an additional $2.1 million in its Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and create 22 new worker cooperatives.</p> <p>"Government does need to step in and provide protection," he said. It's a sentiment that Council Member Lander echoes: "Looking to give people a fair shot is part of our job," he said.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a></p> City Council Considers Regulation of Grocery Personnel Decisions 2015-09-25T18:27:21+00:00 2015-09-25T18:27:21+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5907:city-council-considers-regulation-of-grocery-personnel-decisions Super User <p><img alt="daneek miller presser" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/daneek_miller_presser.jpg" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/John_McCarten" target="_blank">by John McCarten</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor saw heated debate at a Friday hearing on a proposed law to protect grocery and retail store workers from job volatility. The bill, known as the Grocery Worker Retention Act, aims to regulate personnel decision-making during store ownership transitions.</p> <p>Introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the labor committee, the act (<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 632</a>) would require grocery stores that undergo a change in ownership to retain employees for a 90-day period and to review their performance on an individual basis thereafter, keeping employed those who've performed satisfactorily. In case of employee cutbacks, those with seniority or experience would be required to be retained. The act also affords these employees legal recourse in case any conditions are violated.</p> <p>Although the bill drafting process began over a year ago, said Council Member Miller, a former labor leader himself, now may be the time to maximize the benefits envisioned. In July, supermarket giant A&amp;P declared bankruptcy and will be selling dozens of its stores, which would stand to have an effect across the five boroughs. Many locations will be up for auction, with thousands of employees facing job insecurity.</p> <p>The unions that altogether represent roughly 50,000 grocery workers in New York City -- around one-fourth of the city's retail workforce -- are heavily in favor of the bill.</p> <p>The law is beneficial to workers, owners, and customers, said David Mertz, New York City Director for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. "A worker retention policy such as in this legislation protects working families, provides a stable and experiences workforce for owners and thus maintains a safe and reliable service to customers," he said at Friday's hearing.</p> <p>Others who testified in the law's favor included union representatives, non-profit health and safety groups, and individual grocery store employees.</p> <p>Representatives of the retail and grocery industry are displeased with the bill, viewing it as an overreach by the Council. Employers see the liberal legislative body as trying to impose excessive regulation of employment decisions by private entities.</p> <p>Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, questioned the legal authority of the City in passing the bill in so far as it aims to maintain health and safety standards at stores. Peltz was insistent Friday that the bill would do more harm than good, disincentivizing investors from purchasing supermarkets, which means "the neighborhood around [a store] would be deprived of a better store with wider assortments, healthier choices, and more jobs. This would hurt the health and well-being of an area, not help it."</p> <p>The hearing saw a thorough back-and-forth between industry representatives and Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Dromm, who refused to accept the opposing arguments being made. Dromm personally recounted the predatory practices of a supermarket owner in his district and repeatedly refuted and dismissed counter-arguments.</p> <p>The bill is not the first of its kind. Local Law 39 from 2002 gave protections to building service workers in much the same vein as this law would do for grocery store employees. A more parallel example is a law passed statewide in California earlier this year that even withstood a challenge at the State Supreme Court.</p> <p>The Council labor committee also quickly discussed and unanimously approved Intro. 903 which would provide health insurance coverage to the family members of deceased employees of the Department of Sanitation. The law was requested by Mayor de Blasio in response to the on-duty death of a sergeant from the Department of Sanitation in July this year.</p> <p>The Grocery Worker Retention Act currently has 20 sponsors in the 51-member Council. After Friday's hearing it could be tweaked, or not, before being voted on in a subsequent committee hearing before heading to the full Council for approval - if it has enough support.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img alt="daneek miller presser" src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/daneek_miller_presser.jpg" height="401" width="600" /></p> <p>Council Member Miller (photo <a href="https://twitter.com/John_McCarten" target="_blank">by John McCarten</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor saw heated debate at a Friday hearing on a proposed law to protect grocery and retail store workers from job volatility. The bill, known as the Grocery Worker Retention Act, aims to regulate personnel decision-making during store ownership transitions.</p> <p>Introduced by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the labor committee, the act (<a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2141270&amp;GUID=6ADF3A0F-DBC3-43F1-99A6-6159FD716898&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank">Intro. 632</a>) would require grocery stores that undergo a change in ownership to retain employees for a 90-day period and to review their performance on an individual basis thereafter, keeping employed those who've performed satisfactorily. In case of employee cutbacks, those with seniority or experience would be required to be retained. The act also affords these employees legal recourse in case any conditions are violated.</p> <p>Although the bill drafting process began over a year ago, said Council Member Miller, a former labor leader himself, now may be the time to maximize the benefits envisioned. In July, supermarket giant A&amp;P declared bankruptcy and will be selling dozens of its stores, which would stand to have an effect across the five boroughs. Many locations will be up for auction, with thousands of employees facing job insecurity.</p> <p>The unions that altogether represent roughly 50,000 grocery workers in New York City -- around one-fourth of the city's retail workforce -- are heavily in favor of the bill.</p> <p>The law is beneficial to workers, owners, and customers, said David Mertz, New York City Director for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. "A worker retention policy such as in this legislation protects working families, provides a stable and experiences workforce for owners and thus maintains a safe and reliable service to customers," he said at Friday's hearing.</p> <p>Others who testified in the law's favor included union representatives, non-profit health and safety groups, and individual grocery store employees.</p> <p>Representatives of the retail and grocery industry are displeased with the bill, viewing it as an overreach by the Council. Employers see the liberal legislative body as trying to impose excessive regulation of employment decisions by private entities.</p> <p>Jay Peltz, general counsel and vice president of government relations for the Food Industry Alliance of New York State, questioned the legal authority of the City in passing the bill in so far as it aims to maintain health and safety standards at stores. Peltz was insistent Friday that the bill would do more harm than good, disincentivizing investors from purchasing supermarkets, which means "the neighborhood around [a store] would be deprived of a better store with wider assortments, healthier choices, and more jobs. This would hurt the health and well-being of an area, not help it."</p> <p>The hearing saw a thorough back-and-forth between industry representatives and Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Dromm, who refused to accept the opposing arguments being made. Dromm personally recounted the predatory practices of a supermarket owner in his district and repeatedly refuted and dismissed counter-arguments.</p> <p>The bill is not the first of its kind. Local Law 39 from 2002 gave protections to building service workers in much the same vein as this law would do for grocery store employees. A more parallel example is a law passed statewide in California earlier this year that even withstood a challenge at the State Supreme Court.</p> <p>The Council labor committee also quickly discussed and unanimously approved Intro. 903 which would provide health insurance coverage to the family members of deceased employees of the Department of Sanitation. The law was requested by Mayor de Blasio in response to the on-duty death of a sergeant from the Department of Sanitation in July this year.</p> <p>The Grocery Worker Retention Act currently has 20 sponsors in the 51-member Council. After Friday's hearing it could be tweaked, or not, before being voted on in a subsequent committee hearing before heading to the full Council for approval - if it has enough support.</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid<br /></a><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p>