Democratic Socialist lawmaker pushes making it harder for NYC businesses to fire workers

Democratic Socialists of America-backed Queens Councilwoman Tiffany Caban (D-NY) is pushing to pass a law that would make it next to impossible for New York City businesses to fire workers via the “Just Cause” law.

Despite an economically crippling pandemic and now a crushing recession, the New York socialist backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), is seeking to use the law to stop fast food companies from firing or laying off workers or reducing their hours by more than 15 percent “without just cause or a legitimate economic reason,” according to the New York Post.

A draft of the bill shows that Caban is seeking to expand the law “to cover all employees and employers within the city regardless of size or pay.” It is also supported by Comptroller Brad Lander.

Not everyone is supporting the proposed law and New York City business advocacy groups contend that it would actively discourage firms from opening businesses, causing even more severe economic damage in the Big Apple.

“Putting the recession aside, this would be the last straw for many employers. It is essentially the end of `at will’ employment,” Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City bluntly commented. “I cannot imagine that the sensible leaders of the council will allow this proposal to move.”

The law gets even more restrictive in what it proposes. Provisions would shred a company’s ability to hire who they want by requiring every new or open position to be filled by employees fired for economic reasons, beginning with those that were laid off that have the greatest seniority.

It also mandates generous terms for severance pay and would prohibit employers from making decisions based on worker data “gathered through electronic monitoring” in firing, disciplining, or promoting employees.

The proposed law also requires at least 15 days to elapse between an initial warning or discipline and termination for cause. There is an exception for an “egregious failure” by the worker to perform duties but that appears to be subjective on its face.

One specific provision would allow “non-profits” to sue businesses or the city for allegedly violating the law.

Even union officials who have had a chance to review the draft of the bill have their doubts about it. They believe it undermines unions.

“It’s a transparent power play by the DSA to replace organized labor with their advocacy group allies while sinking the New York City economy in the process,” asserted one anonymous union official who was briefed on the bill according to the New York Post. “What’s the point of a union when anyone can sue on your behalf and what brain-dead individual would open a small business when anyone can sue you for firing an unprofessional employee?”

Meanwhile, Vincent Alvarez, who is the president of the NYC Central Labor Council, confirmed discussions with Caban about legislation that would ostensibly give unionized workers “a collective voice in the workplace.”

Caban, true to form, defended the bill as a protection of workers’ rights and livelihoods.

“No worker should be fired without a reason or warning. Yet across New York City, arbitrary and abrupt firings happen every day,” a spokesperson for the Astoria councilwoman claimed in a statement.

“We’ve been excited to spend the last year working with a diverse group of stakeholders on a potential expansion of the successful law that ended unjust firings in the fast food sector. We’ve shared some potential options for such an expansion with key partners, have not yet finalized any legislative language, and continue to solicit feedback,” the spokesperson continued.

Caban is consulting with unions, advocacy groups, and the business community concerning the bill to “build our city’s economy, and further cement New York City as the foremost leader on workers’ rights,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for Comptroller Lander pandered, “We are excited to be working with Council Member Caban and worker advocates to expand just cause rights to all workers.”



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