The New York City Council passed the Immigrant Labor Bill of Rights, guaranteeing fair wages and protections for immigrants.

The New York City Council passed the Immigrant Labor Bill of Rights, guaranteeing fair wages and protections for immigrants.

In an effort to combat wage theft and other forms of exploitation, the City Council last week created the Immigrant Bill of Rights.
City Councilwoman Shahana Hanif, the bill’s sponsor, said the measure is partly to protect asylum seekers who have received their work papers and are now joining the city’s workforce, Gothamist reported.

“Labor laws exist to protect all of our workers, including new and established immigrants,” Hanif said in a statement. This Immigrant Worker Bill of Rights will go a long way toward ensuring their implementation.”

The bill, approved by the Council by a 43-8 vote, is set to become law, with Mayor Eric Adams saying he has no intention of vetoing the legislation.

During his 22 months as mayor and for many years before that, Mayor Adams championed the interests of immigrant workers and all blue collar New Yorkers, fighting for better pay and working conditions for the city’s 60,000 food delivery workers and the rights of tens of thousands of new arrivals. work and provide for their families,” spokeswoman Amaris Cockfield said in a statement.

Immigrant Worker Bill of Rights

The specific details of the Bill of Rights have not yet been determined, but the legislation directs several city agencies—the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), and the New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)—to create this document by March of next year, and employers must subsequently display it “in a visible place in the workplace.”

The legislation also requires workers throughout the city to be informed of their rights through notices in the subway, online and in newspapers, and through LinkNYC kiosks. New York businesses are already required to provide workers with notice of a range of labor rights, including wages and hazards, but there is no comprehensive requirement targeting immigrant workers.

Exposing employers

The bill came the same day that state Attorney General Letitia James announced a $328 million settlement with Lyft and Uber after her office investigated the companies and found they were “bilking drivers out of hundreds of millions.” dollars,” basically charging them a fee that was supposed to come from the passengers.

Additionally, an August report from Documented and ProPublica claimed that in the five years from 2017 to 2021, 127,000 workers in New York City had more than $203 million in wage theft, noting that this figure is “almost certainly significantly higher.” understated.”

Hanif said she drew on the experiences of people like her father, who came to this country as an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, when drafting the bill. “My father worked behind a desk as a restaurant worker and then as a construction worker, not knowing his rights in the city, and taking whatever he could get at the end of the day,” she said.

Sandy Nurse, a council member representing the 37th City Council District in Brooklyn, said her office has received “numerous cases” in which immigrant workers and business owners were exploited or defrauded. More than 110,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York in a surge that began in the spring of 2022.

“We’re seeing workers being paid less than agreed upon and not being given safety and security,” she told Gothamist. “The worst thing is that these people feel they have nowhere to turn because of their status. All workers have rights, and it is our responsibility as a city to guarantee them.”

Wage theft and fear of dismissal

At a Council hearing on the bill in April, Darlie Corniel, director of education programs for the New York-based Worker Education Consortium, said wage theft is a serious problem for immigrant workers.

Workers “who are not properly documented” have a particularly difficult time challenging employers to address the issue, Corniel said, noting that many “simply stay at work because they are afraid that if they leave, they will be retaliated against.”

Some workers, she said, fear retaliation would result in their employer or former employer reporting them to immigration officials. “Working overtime without receiving pay is another form of wage theft,” Corniel says.

The arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers in the city since last year has exacerbated the issue of workers’ rights. Lawmakers and city officials are eager to ensure that as many migrants as possible can work legally, which in turn will allow them to move out of city shelters.

On October 18, Hanif reported on platform Xformerly known as Twitter, that the city helped file 5,600 asylum claims through the Office of Asylum Services and that 300 claims came from Temporary Protected Status recipients, including Venezuelans, who took advantage of the TPS expansion announced by the Biden administration on Sept. 20.

At that time, Hanif said, OASO had another 600 appointments with TPS recipients, which gives them the legal right to work in the United States. An aide to Hanif said the figure was expected to increase significantly.

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