Workers are the backbone of our city and deserve protections to remain safe and keep up with the cost of living in New York. With a focus on fast food workers, for-hire drivers and construction personnel, the Council in 2017 strengthened workplace safety and addressed concerns about earnings, wages and unlicensed vans.
Adding a Tip Option for For-Hire Drivers
Many drivers in for-hire vehicles rely on their tips to make ends meet. This year, the Council passed legislation that requires for-hire vehicle bases to allow passengers to tip drivers through the same method of payment they use to pay the fare.
Improving Conditions for Fast Food Workers
This year, the Council passed a package of five bills intended to improve the lot of fast food and retail workers in New York City. This legislation made significant changes to the fast food and retail industries:
- employers are required to schedule fast food workers in advance;
- fast food employees can no longer be required to work “clopenings” where they must close the store in one shift and open it in the next;
- employers must offer shifts to existing fast food employees before hiring new ones;
- fast food workers can now make small contributions to a not-for-profit of their choice through payroll deductions; and
- on-call shifts for retail workers are now banned.
Cracking Down on Unlicensed Commuter Vans
While licensed commuter vans fill gaps in the transit system, the prevalence of unlicensed commuter vans and their involvement in grave crashes present serious enforcement challenges for the City and threaten legitimate operators. This year, the Council passed a package of legislation aimed at strengthening the licensed commuter van industry and cracking down on unlicensed vans. The legislation removed some unnecessary and burdensome restrictions relating to record maintenance and authorization renewals, limited the number of commuter van licenses pending an annual study on safety and demand, and increased civil penalties for illegal commuter van operation.
Passing the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act
The Earned Sick Time Act of 2013, expanded in 2014 by the current Council, was advanced this year as the Earned Safe and Sick Time Act. This law allows for the five days that employees could already accrue for use as sick time to be used for instances of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking and other family offense matters.
Making construction sites safer
As construction in the City rapidly increases, we must take steps to ensure that such work is conducted safely. This year, the Council passed a package of legislation to help make construction sites safer:
- Workers will now have required training to prevent injuries and accidents.
- The Department of Buildings will be required to report on site safety managers and site safety coordinators who monitor construction sites for compliance with safety requirements and on construction site incidents.
- Cranes will be required to have event recorders as well as GPS tracking and wind-speed measuring devices and hoisting machine operators will be required to obtain a licensing rating to operate particularly large cranes.
- Penalties will be increased for those who continue to disregard site safety requirements.
By many accounts, the yellow taxi industry is facing challenging financial times. Trips and fare revenue are down, many taxis now sit idle, and major lenders to taxi medallion owners have been seized by state regulators. This year, the Council passed a package of legislation that eased some of the administrative burdens related to owning a taxi medallion, including eliminating the distinction between individual and mini-fleet medallions (allowing all medallions to be owned by any owner, regardless of whether they own a single medallion or more than one medallion) and lowering the rate of the medallion transfer tax.