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Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation Protecting Employees in Grocery Stores from Losing Their Jobs After an Ownership Transition

February 8, 2016

Also signs package of legislation increasing transparency of DOE student health services

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed eight pieces of legislation into law – Intro. 632-B, in relation to protecting employees in large grocery stores from immediately losing their jobs after an ownership transition; Intro. 771-A, 952-A and 957-A, in relation to requiring the Department of Education to submit annual reports on student health services; Intro. 49-A, in relation to expanding notice to Council Members and Community Boards regarding the approval and rejection of applications for new buildings and alterations to existing buildings that require a new certificate of occupancy; Intro. 798-B, in relation to requiring the Department of Finance to provide tenants enrolled in the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program or the Disability Rent Increase Exemption program with the rent amount on which their benefit calculation is based on; Intro. 1007 in relation to increasing the amount expended annually on Business Improvement Districts; and Intro. 1030-A, in relation to increasing the amount expended on the Metrotech BID as well as expanding its services.

“Intro. 632-B will help grocery store employees avoid instability after an ownership transition, giving them an opportunity to plan ahead or keep their jobs after being evaluated by their new employer.” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is just another way the City is helping hardworking New Yorkers. I would like to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership, and Council Member Miller for sponsoring this legislation.”

"Whether it's increasing transparency in our education system or protecting the job security of workers in communities across the five boroughs, the Council is proud to support policies that improve New York City," said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "I thank my colleagues and the de Blasio Administration for their partnership in serving all of New York City's residents."

The first bill, Intro. 632-B, protects large grocery store employees from immediately losing their jobs after an ownership transition. Under this law, new grocery store owners must retain the incumbent owner’s employees for a transition period of 90 days. After 90 days, the new employer must evaluate each employee and may offer them continued employment. Prior to the transition, incumbent owners must post a notice with information regarding the transition and notify employees of their rights. In addition, the incumbent owner will be required to provide the new owner with a full and accurate list of their employees. A grocery employee alleging a violation of this law may file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs within 180 days of the date the violation occurred. The local law will take effect 90 days after the bill is signed.

“Today thousands of hardworking men and women in our city’s grocery industry, along with the communities and families who depend on these workers for their nutritional needs, have cause for celebration. With passage of this legislation we will be able to provide stability that would otherwise not exist during grocery transitions,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “When we retain skilled workers to handle our groceries such as produce, poultry and meats, we help to ensure that proper food preparation, health and sanitation procedures are observed. I thank the Mayor, along with my colleagues at the Council, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Progressive Caucus, and our labor and community supporters for their passionate advocacy and support of this legislation.”

"Last year, thousands of supermarket workers in New York were affected when the A&P chain declared bankruptcy,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Many of those stores closed, and many others changed hands. Workers lost their jobs when new management took over. This legislation will protect workers in situations like these by giving them something they don't have now – a guaranteed transition period when their store changes hands. There are 50,000 supermarket workers in New York City that now have added job security thanks to the actions of the Mayor and the City Council."

“Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW has seen firsthand how the Grocery Worker Retention Act can benefit the 50,000 workers employed in New York City’s grocery and food retail industry. Only a few short months ago, thousands of workers found themselves without jobs as their stores were sold due to the bankruptcy of the A&P Company. Many of the new owners refused to employ any of the workers in the stores that they acquired, leaving hundreds of long time A&P workers facing unemployment,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 of the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers. “Grocery and food retail workers are a vital part of our neighborhoods. We applaud the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for taking the necessary steps to expand displaced worker protections to the men and women working in the food retail industry, as well as providing stability to the communities in which they proudly serve.”

"All too often when supermarkets change ownership, workers' job security is uncertain at best," said Bruce Both, President of UFCW Local 1500, New York State's largest supermarket Union. "It is not fair to the workers or their communities, where union wages serve as economic anchors. I would like to thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, CounciI Member I. Daneek Miller, the Progressive Caucus and the entire New York City Council for passing and signing this legislation today to end this injustice, and provide grocery workers in the City of New York with a 90-day window to showcase their skills and stabilize the transition for the community."

The second bill, Intro. 771-A, requires the Department of Education to report on student health services and patterns in student health conditions. The required report will include data related to nurses, school based health centers, health screenings and common student health conditions such as allergies, asthma and Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Corey Johnson.

The third bill, Intro. 952-A, requires the DOE to report annual information regarding school compliance with State regulations governing comprehensive health education and HIV/AIDS education in 6th through 12th grade. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor, Council Member Laurie Cumbo.

The fourth bill Intro. 957-A, requires the DOE to submit information regarding sexual health education instruction received by public middle and high school instructors on an annual basis to the Council, and post this information on its website. This bill requires the DOE to provide information on the total number of licensed health instructors employed by the DOE, disaggregated by full-time and part-time instructors; the total number of instructors assigned to teach at least one health education class; the total number and percentage of instructors who received professional development training provided by the DOE on sexual health education in the preceding two school years; and the total number and percentage of instructors who attended multiple sessions of professional development training provided by the DEO on sexual health education in the preceding two school years, disaggregated by the number of trainings attended. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsor Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

"The Office of School Health and the Office of School Wellness will continue to work closely with schools to ensure students have access to the health services, wellness programs and health education they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond," said Department of Education Deputy Chancellor of Operations Elizabeth Rose.

“New York City’s unique partnership between the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Education has permitted the development of new school health programs including vision, asthma management, dental services and mental health,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Deputy Commissioner George Askew. “We look forward to continuing to ensure that New York City students receive high quality health services.”

"The City must work with educators to provide our public school students with first-rate physical and sex education classes," said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. "These subjects are important components of every child's school experience. I am pleased to join Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, Council Members Cumbo, Gibson and Johnson in supporting these bills which represent the Council's holistic approach to maintaining our children's health and safety."

“As we seek to improve health services in schools across all five boroughs, accurate and actionable information is crucial,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. "With the data mandated by this bill, we can intelligently address the health of our youth and support the hardworking staff of our City’s school health centers. In-school health services are a critical part of any world-class public education system, and this bill puts our city in a position to excel in this area. I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this legislation into law, and my many colleagues in the City Council who have supported it.”

“The enactment of Intro 952 is a major victory for the thousands of students who deserve a balanced education that instills critical thinking and life skills. This legislation would hold the New York City Department of Education accountable for implementing a citywide comprehensive sex education program that is compliant with state standards to ensure that students in grades six through twelve are well-equipped to make informed decisions about their health and well-being to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs. We must engage our youth in real conversations that will address gender identity, cultivating healthy relationships and their options. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I would like to thank the de Blasio Administration, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood NYC and the New York Civil Liberties Union for their tireless advocacy for equitable reproductive rights,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

“The quality of our students’ education and health outcomes are simply too important to leave to chance. This legislation brings important transparency to the qualifications of those teaching sexual health in our public schools,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “It is my hope that this new law in our city encourages educators to focus on evidence based approaches and allows us to better evaluate the sex-education mandate and improve sexual health education for our young people. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for their leadership, and Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education, for supporting this measure, and my colleagues for prioritizing the health and well-being of our public school students.”

The fifth bill, Intro. 49-A, expands notice to Council Members and Community Boards regarding the approval and rejection of applications for new buildings and alterations to existing buildings that require a new certificate of occupancy. The bill will allow communities to have a preview of jobs under consideration by the Department of Buildings. In addition, the bill will further the transparency of the DOB, increasing the already significant amount of information the DOB makes available to the public. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

The sixth bill, Intro. 798-B, requires the Department of Finance to provide tenants enrolled in the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program or the Disability Rent Increase Exemption Program – programs that freeze rent for eligible tenants – with the rent amount on which their benefit calculation is based on. Furthermore, the DOF will also include an explanation that benefits are based on legal regulated rent, with the exception that their benefit may be based on a preferential rent – rent that is lower than the legal regulated rent – in cases where the tenant pays preferential rent for the life of the lease. The bill also explains that tenants paying the preferential rent may continue to pay preferential rent even when they are enrolled in the SCRIE or DRIE programs. Notice will be provided to tenants with information about how to obtain a rent registration history form or file a complaint of rent overcharge. This follows significant efforts by the DOF to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities have maximum support and guidance in accessing the NYC Rent Freeze Benefits. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Robert Cornegy.

The seventh bill, Intro. 1007-A, authorize nine existing Business Improvement Districts to increase the amount they expend annually. The nine BIDs include Myrtle Avenue, Village Alliance, Bryant Park, 14th Street Union Square, 180th Street, Montague Street, Columbus Avenue, Bay Ridge 5th Avenue, and Belmont. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill’s sponsors Council Members Juslissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Committee on Finance, and Larie Cumbo.

“Today’s signing of a funding enhancement for the 180th Street BID is an important development for the Jamaica community. The funds will allow for quality of life enhancements such as increased security patrols and façade improvements to be made as we seek to meet the demands of local residents and consumers,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.

"The annual expenditure increase for the Bay Ridge 5th Avenue BID will have a profound impact on the improvement of the quality of life in our neighborhood – bolstering sanitation and security services in the district, as well as seasonal programming,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile. “I am pleased to see the increased funding come to fruition for one of the largest BIDs in Brooklyn."

The eighth bill, Intro. 1030-A, will increase the amount expended on the Metrotech BID and will expand its boundaries into the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District, allowing it to provide vital public space maintenance, programming and marketing services that benefit visitors and patrons of small businesses and cultural institutions throughout the area. This BID expansion reflects a two-year planning effort led by the Department of Small Business Services and local stakeholders to extend comprehensive BID services into the growing Brooklyn Cultural District, supporting the Administration’s larger investments in the area’s growth as an economic, cultural and educational hub for New York City. The bill authorizes a change in the method by which the BID can calculate its assessments by creating two assessment sub-districts. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the sponsor of this bill, Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. He also thanked Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council member Corey Johnson, whose district includes the Village Alliance BID.

“Business Improvement Districts are crucial partners in advancing the goals of this administration to reach deeply into neighborhoods and help create good jobs, stronger businesses and a fairer economy,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner for the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “The expansion of the Metrotech BID, signed into law today, will knit together Downtown Brooklyn’s parks, commercial strips and institutions – driving growth and making the neighborhood a dynamic economic, cultural and educational hub. Nine additional BIDs located throughout New York City are also receiving assessment increases today, which will allow for deeper investment in their communities and strengthened local support for small businesses. Thank you to the Mayor and NYC Council for passing this important legislation.”

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