On Tuesday, the City Council approved the passage of the Grocery Worker Retention Act. I.632 provides for a ninety day transition period to eligible employees following a change in ownership of a grocery store. The transition period is a temporary protection for employees who may face unemployment through no fault of their own.
The GWRA seeks to provide stability within the grocery industry, protecting workers rights and promoting retention while providing for a workforce experienced and knowledgeable in food preparation, health regulations and sanitation procedures. As such, the legislation will help to maintain safe and reliable service to families that depend on their local supermarkets for dietary and nutritional needs. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“Today is a great day for thousands of hardworking men and women in our city’s grocery industry, as well as for the communities and families who rely on these workers for their nutritional needs. When we retain skilled workers to handle our groceries such as produce, poultry and meats, we help to ensure that proper food preparation, along with proper health and sanitation procedures, are observed,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “Through this legislation we are able to provide communities with stability that would otherwise not exist during grocery transitions. We have already seen the terrible impact that A&P’s bankruptcy had on families throughout the City, and we don’t want to see such again. I thank my colleagues at the Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Progressive Caucus, along with our labor and community supporters for their passionate advocacy and support of this legislation.”
“Providing a transition period for grocery workers is a smart, considerate measure to allow workers an opportunity to seek new employment without relying on public assistance, as well as giving new ownership a time period to evaluate current employees and consider keeping them on staff, rather than blindly cleaning house,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “I’d like to thank my colleague, Council Member Miller, for bringing this issue to the attention of the City Council and I encourage my colleagues to support this bill when it comes to the floor later today.”
“The Grocery Workers Retention Act is a well thought out bill that creates an important transition period and will raise standards for vulnerable workers across the city’s grocery store industry,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The transition period called for in this bill gives workers a chance to organize when a store comes under new management, allowing workers a chance to recoup back pay, front pay, and even retain their jobs, or a window to find a new job if needed. We’ve been protecting building service workers in a similar way, right here in New York for over a decade, and cities across the country have already taken similar steps to protect grocery store employees. The GWRA is a key step to achieving much needed protections for workers facing highly uncertain times.”
“Grocery workers who have worked faithfully for years, and sometimes decades, for their employers deserve respect and acknowledgment for their service. This important legislation will provide necessary protections for workers facing an uncertain future due to the increasing number of sales, mergers and imminent closures of supermarkets throughout our City. I thank Council Member Miller, advocates and grocery workers for leading the way in this effort to give thousands of New Yorkers valuable peace of mind in an uncertain time for the grocery industry,” said Council Member Margaret Chin.
“Workers deserve to know their knowledge, experience, and service to the neighborhoods they live and work in matters,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The passage of the Grocery Worker Retention Act provides working families with financial stability and ensures communities will continue to be served by an experienced workforce.”
“Workers should not be blown away by the winds of change whenever corporate conglomerates decide to treat businesses like trading cards,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, sponsor of Int 1011, which would enact a transition period within the food service industry. “To avoid the sudden shocks brought on by new management, mergers or other changes in which workers have no say, we at the Council are standing up. No more sudden layoffs; no more mass firings. Its time to put an end to these cruel practices and support our workers.”
“Providing displaced workers with a guaranteed transition period to sort out their affairs and plan for the future is good for families, businesses and our city. With a growing trend of mergers, restructuring, and rapid change in the grocery industry, it is critical that we act now to extend this common-sense protection to its workers. I am proud to join Council Member Miller and my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus in support of this important piece of legislation,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
“No worker should be thrown out on the street just because a supermarket changes ownership,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “Workers deserve dignity and fairness and that doesn’t change because there’s a new logo on the door. I thank Council Member Miller for his leadership on this issue.”
“Neighborhood groceries not only provide goods and services but exist as anchors for the communities in which they serve. When ownership changes arise, it makes sense to consider the consequences of new management on the handling of perishables and to discuss protections for the workers and customers absorbing the impact of these transitions,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “I’m grateful to Council Member Miller for raising these issues and exploring how to make this process work for all parties.”
IN THE NEWS
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(translation) Voices of NY, Immigrants Cheer Law Protecting Grocery Work
Gotham Gazette, Grocery Worker Bill Provokes Rare Level of Council Dissent