The fight for the rights of fast food workers has had important achievements such as raising the minimum wage. /File
Photo: Mariela Lombard / El Diario NY
Starting this weekend, thousands of fast food workers in the Big Apple, who during the pandemic became essential personnel, will not be able to be fired or have their working hours reduced without just cause.
Acting Commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), Sandra Abeles, announced the entry into force, on July 4, of the ‘Just Cause’ law for these workers and warned that there are resources available to them and their employers .
The new legislation also adds critical new job protections for fast food workers, in addition to the current fair hours provisions under the Fair Work Week Act.
Abeles pointed out that for too long, fast food workers, a predominantly minority and female workforce, have been treated as if they were disposable. He stated that, despite that, “they have been there for us on the front lines during the pandemic.”
The official stressed that no one should be left without a job for unjust reasons and that this law will bring additional stability to the lives of these low-wage workers, “ensuring that they cannot be fired on a whim.”
And to educate both employers and workers about the Just Cause Act, DCWP will host a series of educational walks and roundtables this month to educate about the legislation.
Other experts highlighted New York’s leadership in job security.
For María Figueroa, Director of Labor Research and Policies at the Worker Institute, Cornell University- ILR School, this new law not only gives workers protection against undue dismissal, but also empowers them to exercise their rights in the workplace without fear of retaliation.
“The enactment and implementation of Just Cause is an example of effective policymaking at the local level to achieve worker protection. The hope is that more cities across the country will replicate this approach to improve labor standards in the fast food industry, ”said Figueroa.
“With its new just cause law, New York is leading the nation in providing fast food workers with much-needed relief from wrongful terminations,” said Paul Sonn, director of the State Policy Program at the National Employment Law Project. .
For her part, Rachel Deutsch, director of labor justice campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy, applauded that after facing unimaginable risks during the pandemic, “fast food workers in New York City will no longer have to try harder for fear that a manager’s bad mood will mean the end of his livelihood. “
José López, Co-CEO of Make the Road New York, recalled that for years, countless workers across the city have faced the constant threat of being fired for arbitrary reasons or for no reason.
“We hear all the time from workers whose bosses, overnight and for no good reason, destroyed their livelihoods and left their family in dire straits. The city’s Just Cause law will require employers to abide by a set of fair rules when it comes to layoffs and cutbacks, exactly what all workers deserve in their jobs, ”said López.
These protections apply to fast food chains that have at least 30 locations nationwide.
According to the report “Fired on a Whim: The Precarious Existence on NYC Fast-food Workers”, by the Center for Popular Democracy, Fast Food Justice, the National Employment Law Project and 32BJ, New York has about 3,000 fast food establishments that employ about 67,000 workers. Two-thirds of them are women and almost 90% are people of color.