On April 22nd, the New York City Council introduced a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package at its first ever remote Stated hearing. The package includes legislation aimed to help those on the frontline of the pandemic including essential workers, small businesses, renters and commercial tenants. It also proposes solutions to combat the public health crisis by providing shelter to homeless New Yorkers and permitting street closures in order to allow for more social-distancing space. Further included in the package is a NYC Essential Workers’ Bill or Right which proposes hazard payments to non-salaried employees, prohibits the firing of essential workers without just cause, and paid sick-leave for gig workers.
Tomorrow, Tuesday May 5th at 10am the Committee on Civil Service and Labor will consider all bills under the Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights. To view the hearing you can visit: https://council.nyc.gov/livestream/
Those interested in virtually testifying must register at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Written testimony may be submitted up to 72 hours after the hearing has been adjourned.
Here is an overview of the bills you need to know:
NYC Essential Workers’ Bill of Rights
Int. 1918 – Premiums For Essential Workers
Sponsored by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and Speaker Johnson
This bill would require large employers to pay premiums to certain essential non-salaried workers. Employers with more than 100 employees would pay hourly workers $30 for a shift under four hours, $60 for a shift of four to eight hours and $75 dollars for any shift over eight hours. The obligation would end when the state of emergency is lifted.
Int. 1923 – Just Cause Rights For Essential Workers
Sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, Speaker Johnson, and Council Member Brad Lander
This bill would prohibit employers from discharging an essential employee without just cause.
Int. 1926 – Paid Sick Leave For Gig Workers
Sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander
Independent contractors were not included in the paid sick leave bill passed by the New York State Legislature for employees, even if their work is controlled or directed by the company that hires them. This bill would close that loophole and would apply retroactively, dating back to January 1, 2020.
Res. 1285 – Resolution On Misclassification
Sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander
Resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation clarifying the test for classification of workers as independent contractors or employees by extending the test of the New York Labor Law to apply to all workers.
Protecting New York City’s Renters
Int. 1912 – Extending Time For All NYC Renters To Repay Rent, Blocking Evictions, And Collection Of Debts
Sponsored by Speaker Johnson
This bill would prohibit the marshals and the City’s sheriffs from the taking and restitution of property or the execution of money judgments. This means that evictions and the collection of debt would be paused for all NYC renters, including residential and commercial tenants. It also means those renters would have additional time to repay their rent through the duration of this crisis. Further, for New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19, marshals and sheriffs would be barred from collecting debts and performing evictions until April 2021.
Int. 1936 - Protecting Tenants From COVID-Related Harassment And Discrimination
Sponsored by Council Member Ritchie Torres and Speaker Corey Johnson
The bill would amend the definition of harassment in the Housing Maintenance Code to include threats against an individual based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted person, their status as an essential employee, or their receipt of a rental concession or forbearance. Harassment would be punishable by a civil penalty of $2,000 to $10,000.
Prioritizing Public Health
Int. 1927 – Providing Safe Shelter
Sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin and Speaker Johnson
This bill would require the City to provide each single adult homeless individual with a private room through the end of the pandemic and implement protocols to reduce risk of infection. In effect, this would require the City to temporarily close many shelters and move residents to hotels or other facilities with private rooms.
Int. 1933 – Mandating Open City Streets
Sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera and Speaker Johnson
The bill would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create more street space for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the five boroughs to allow New Yorkers more room for social distancing, with a citywide target of 75 miles of open streets.
Protecting New York City’s Small Businesses
Int. 1914 – Commercial Tenant Harassment
Sponsored by Council Member Adrienne Adams and Speaker Johnson
This bill would make threatening any commercial tenant based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted business or person, a form of harassment punishable by a civil penalty of $10,000 to $50,000.
Int. 1932 – Suspending Personal Liability On Commercial Leases
Sponsored by Council Member Rivera and Speaker Johnson
This bill would temporarily suspend personal liability provisions in leases and other rental agreements of COVID-19 impacted businesses while the state of emergency is in effect, ensuring that City business owners don’t face the loss of their businesses and personal financial ruin or bankruptcy. Further, threatening to or attempting to enforcing said provisions would also be considered a form of harassment.
Int. 1916 – Suspending Sidewalk Cafe Fees
Sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen
As restaurants face unprecedented financial losses and can no longer utilize their sidewalk cafes during the state of emergency, this bill would require the Department of Consumer Affairs to waive and/or refund all sidewalk café license fees in 2020.
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