Jobs & Economic Development

Test: New York City needs job policies that makes work pay for New Yorkers, and build a fair economy for all of us. By guaranteeing paid sick leave for all workers, supporting the rights of independent and low-wage workers, retaining good jobs that are pathways to the middle class like manufacturing, and reforming low-road economic development subsidies so they create living wage jobs, New York can regain its place as the largest engine of economic mobility for the United States.

A fair work week for New Yorkers

Nearly five years ago, fast-food workers in Downtown Brooklyn went out on strike for a few hours -- and they sparked a national movement.

Their demand, “$15 and a union,” was dismissed as crazy at the time. But by demanding dignity, by organizing, by their courage, they made it possible. Since then, more than 22 million Americans have benefited from state & local increases in the minimum wage … and more than 10 million (including all low-wage workers in NYC) are on the path to earning $15/hour. Read more »

Two Steps This Week Toward A Fairer NYC

As New Yorkers, we believe that everyone should have a fair shot, no matter who they are, or where they live.

This week, the City Council took two steps toward making our city a little more fair. Read more »

Honoring the Life of MTA Worker Louis Gray

Two months ago, MTA employee and father of three Louis Gray was tragically killed while conducting track maintenance at the Church Ave F/G subway station in Kensington. Louis’s maintenance partner Jeffrey Fleming was seriously injured in the same incident. Read more »

Before a vacation, a fair work week

My family and I are headed out on vacation next week. I don’t know about you, but at this moment, I sure need one.

Before we leave, though, it’s worth taking a minute to think about workers whose jobs don’t provide even enough stability to know whether, when, or how much they’ll be working from week-to-week.

Without a stable work schedule, who can build a stable life, pay the rent, arrange child care, or go to school? Much less save up for presents, buy new clothes for the kids, or go on a real vacation.

Unfortunately, unpredictable schedules are all-too-common, especially for poor New Yorkers. A new report from the Community Service Society (“Unpredictable: How Unpredictable Schedules Keep Low-Income New Yorkers from Getting Ahead”) highlights how NYC’s low-wage retail and restaurant workers suffer from abusive scheduling that exacerbates economic hardship. The CSS study shows that: Read more »

Why I was arrested this morning

This morning, alongside dozens of committed advocates and elected officials across the country, I was arrested as part of the Fight for $15 campaign's National Day of Disruption. I wrote an op-ed, included below and published this morning in The Nation to explain why, in the age of Trump, the Fight for $15 offers a rare model of bravery, boldness, and solidarity:

Where will we find inspiration for the challenging days ahead? Where can we look, as we struggle to resist a President-elect who stirs up division, and whose policies will erode access to opportunity, even for his own working-class voters?

One place I will look: to courageous fast-food workers who have led the Fight for $15. Their courage, bold vision, solidarity across race and gender, and vision for economic fairness have transformed what is possible for low-wage workers. That’s why I’m getting arrested today, as part of their National Day of Action. Read more »

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »

Supporting our small businesses

Our small businesses are a real treasure of our communities. They are a big part of our daily lives, the places where we see our neighbors, so much of what make our neighborhoods feel like home.

We all know what a difference it makes to be able to find the things we want and need, from small businesses, owned by real human beings, located a short walk from home – rather than having to rely on chain stores and strip malls. Read more »

Press Release: Raising the Floor for Workers in the Gig Economy

New report highlights innovative policies the New York City Council can adopt to strengthen rights, protections, and benefits for gig workers

City Hall, NY -- For Labor Day 2016, New York City Council Member Brad Lander released a new policy report identifying challenges facing workers in the gig economy, and outlining concrete steps that New York City can take to protect gig workers from wage theft and discrimination, as well as longer term efforts to offer portable benefits and a framework for worker organizing.

Since 2005, the “gig economy” has grown dramatically, as companies have sought to shed costs and employer responsibilities. From 2005 to 2015, the number of workers engaged in “alternative work arrangements” (independent contractors, freelancers, temps, on-call, and contract workers) grew by 9.4 million, while the number of traditional employees declined slightly. From graphic designers, to models, to temps, to for-hire drivers, studies show that between 16% and 40% of all workers earn their checks “by the gig” rather than by a traditional hourly or weekly wage. There are an estimated 1.3 million freelance workers in NYC alone.

While these arrangements can bring flexibility, convenience, and lower prices, it is too often workers who bear the cost. Typically classified as independent contractors, gig economy workers lack the rights, protections, and benefits of traditional employees, making it far more difficult to piece together a decent standard of living. More than 70% of freelancers report that they have been victims of wage theft or late payment. Others face discrimination with little recourse. And the IRS estimates that millions of workers have been misclassified as independent contractors when they are truly employees, and thus denied health benefits, retirement security, or paid leave. Read more »