Jobs & Economic Development

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.

Protecting Freelancers from Getting Stiffed

New York City is the freelance capital of the world, with over 1.3 million freelancers, so many of them right here in Brooklyn. More and more people are working “by the gig” (as graphic designers, film producers, for-hire drivers, nannies, and much more), rather than for a regular paycheck.

But despite the rapidly growing percentage of workers who are paid this way, our laws have not kept up with our changing economy. As a result, gig economy workers don’t have the protections and benefits of traditional employees.

One consequence: more than 70% of freelancers report having been stiffed out of payments they were owed – by being paid too late, too little, or not at all – to the tune of $6,390 every year, on average. I’ve heard stories from individuals who were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars they were owed.

Everyone deserves to be paid for their work, on time and in full. So on Monday, in partnership with the Freelancer’s Union, I introduced the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.”  Read more »

First-of-its-Kind Legislation Will Crack Down on Nonpayment Epidemic Facing NYC’s 1.3 Million Independent Workers

Freelancers Union Unveils “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” Sponsored by City Council Member Brad Lander, with support from AFT, UFT, 32BJ, Kickstarter, Make the Road, New York Tech Meetup and National Domestic Workers Alliance

Average Amount Each Freelancer Loses to Deadbeats Every Year: $6,390

New York - Chanting “freelance isn’t free,” hundreds of graphic designers, domestic workers, accountants, writers, adjuncts and laborers converged on City Hall on Monday to unveil the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act” – first-of-its-kind NYC Council legislation cracking down on the explosion of deadbeat companies that stiff the city’s 1.3 million independent workers.

More than 70% of freelancers experience late or nonpayment at some point in their career, and they’re stiffed an average of $6,390 every year – forcing many to use credit cards or rely on government assistance to make up the difference. Read more »

Gratitude, 2015

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days.

Terrorism around the world punctures our sense of security, and prompts xenophobic backlash against our neighbors and those seeking protection from this very sort of terror.

Climate change threatens the world we will hand our kids.

Growing inequality makes it harder for people just to get by.

We struggle across racial divides, as we see video of yet another young African-American man killed needlessly in an encounter with police, and violence comes to those protesting peacefully to change an unfair system.

And at times, the changes in our communities – new development, skyrocketing rents, rising homelessness – make us feel we are losing our neighborhoods.

So I’m glad that Thanksgiving is here, to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Read more »

Remembering Bette Stoltz, a champion of South Brooklyn

On Thursday, we lost a great champion for South Brooklyn, for Smith Street, for small businesses, for manufacturing, for Brooklyn jobseekers, and for low-income kids.  Bette led the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation for many years, and was a much-loved community leader, CB6 member, organizer, gadfly, husband, mom, grandmother and friend.  Read more »

Gotham Gazette: City Council Developing New Protections for Workers in ‘Gig’ Economy

by Samar Khurshid, in Gotham Gazette

There are more than 1.3 million freelancers working in New York City and with the help of the City Council, these workers may soon be afforded certain protections on par with full-time workers.

Initially focused on wage protection and health benefits, Council members and advocates are also looking at legislation to expand collective bargaining rights to certain groups of workers in the “gig” economy.

The on-demand economy of such workers has mushroomed in the city with Uber and Lyft drivers, Handy.com cleaners, and the more traditional writers, graphic designers, and other artists. These temporary, “for-hire” workers largely perform their various efforts without the benefits of job security, health insurance, pension buy-in, or paid sick leave. Even their wages are regularly not guaranteed. Eight out of ten freelancers have complained of being victims of late payment or non-payment of wages according to reports compiled by the Freelancers Union.

With the City Council aggressively tackling workforce issues, Council Member Brad Lander, a Democrat who represents part of Brooklyn, has taken the lead in developing legislation to help people in the gig economy. Read more »

Protecting Workers in the On-Demand Economy

As part of its “Cities Rising” series, The Nation magazine featured four essays from members of Local Progress, our national network of progressive local elected officials (“How to Build the Movement for Progressive Power, the Urban Way”). The collection includes this piece on city-based efforts to can protect and support workers in the on-demand economy. If you’re interested, there’s a bit more detail about these ideas in this Local Progress policy brief. Read more »

Making Local Progress Toward Equity

I’m in Los Angeles this week, attending the conferences of Local Progress (our national network of progressive local elected officials) and the PolicyLink#Equity2015 Summit. I’m looking forward to joining over 100 local elected officials at Local Progress, and then 3,000 people from around the country at PolicyLink, committed to advancing issues of racial & economic equity, sustainability, and vibrant democracy in our cities and communities. Read more »

Protecting Workers in the “Gig” Economy

More and more workers here in Brooklyn (and far beyond) are being paid “by the gig” – freelance graphic designers, writers, and film producers, Uber drivers, Handy.com cleaners, day laborers, and many more.

In plenty of cases, freelancing and “gig” work makes sense. It can allow consumers to arrange for on-demand services in ways not possible before, allow workers to set flexible work hours or earn extra money, and generate new economic activity.

But there’s a very real dark side. Freelance workers too often get cheated out of the wages and fees they are owed. Day laborers get misclassified and denied their rights as employees. Uber drivers lack the right to organize and collectively bargain with their corporate employer. Working by-the-gig provides much less job security than a traditional career – and it almost never provides health insurance, paid sick days, paid family leave, workforce development, or retirement security.

We urgently need creative thinking, new models, and some new laws to provide for worker protection and security in the emerging economy. Read more »

Whose visions for Gowanus? Come take a look.

You may have seen the recent New Yorker cover on Gowanus, in which artist Adrian Tomine makes fun of “people eating their organic kale and quinoa salads while gazing across the opaque, fetid water.” It’s a funny cover, and it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves (and our neighbors). And there are certainly many ironic contradictions around the Gowanus Canal these days.   

But the issues we face in Gowanus are serious ones: How do we confront the legacy of industrial pollution, and the challenges of climate change and resiliency? How can we create inclusive neighborhoods – with room for working- and middle-class families, for public housing, for artists, for manufacturing – amidst skyrocketing real estate values? What’s the right balance of housing and jobs? Can we preserve, (or even strengthen) the mixed-use, eclectic, creative character of the neighborhood amidst change? Read more »

Your Neighborhood Needs You!

Our 5th year of Participatory Budgeting NYC (PBNYC) is about to kick off, and we need your help! 

The PBNYC process gives New Yorkers the power to decide how to spend tax dollars in our neighborhoods. If you’re not familiar with PBNYC, here’s how it works: Read more »