New York City Labor Bills Would Decrease Workplace Flexibility, Part-Time Job Opportunities

So-called "Empowerment" Bill Creates Mechanism for Collecting "Dues" from Fast Food Employees
  • Publication Date: March 2017

  • Topics: Work Schedule

Washington D.C. – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) criticized a series of labor-related bills to be considered by the New York City Council this Friday in its Committee on Civil Service and Labor. EPI highlights how these bills would reduce job opportunities and flexibility as well as create a mechanism for union-aligned nonprofits to collect dues-like payments from fast food employees–without even taking a vote to unionize.

There are six bills in total being considered, including:

  • Two bills by Councilman Brad Lander which would mandate work shifts be offered to current fast food employees before hiring new ones; would require schedules to be provided two weeks in advance; and would penalize employers for schedule changes made within 2 weeks of the shift.
  • A bill, proposed by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland would require fast food employers – at employees’ request – to direct a portion of employee paychecks each month to a “covered not-for-profit organization.” This is a thinly-veiled attempt to provide a new revenue stream for union-aligned nonprofits organizing the fast food industry, no vote required.

San Francisco was the first city to pass restrictive scheduling legislation, in 2014. (The law took effect in late 2015.) Initial evidence suggests that it caused covered employers to reduce employees’ schedule flexibility and part-time employment opportunities:

  • A survey of affected San Francisco businesses, conducted by Dr. Lloyd Corder of CorCom Inc, indicates that the workplace flexibility desired by employees was reduced after the law was passed. Specifically, Corder found that more than a third of respondents now offered employees less flexibility to make their own scheduling changes. Corder’s team also found that one-fifth of affected employers were offering fewer part-time positions.

The Washington Post reported that a number of businesses were struggling with the law’s scheduling restrictions, which hampered their ability to respond to unexpected changes in customer traffic. Employees were unhappy, too, as the law limited their ability to pick up extra shifts.

This loss of flexibility matters. An analysis of Census Bureau data indicates that the vast majority of New York City fast food employees are voluntarily working part-time, and may choose their jobs specifically because of shift flexibility:

  • An analysis of Census Bureau American Community Survey data by Dr. Aaron Yelowitz of the University of Kentucky found only 10 percent of part-time fast food employees in New York are working that schedule involuntarily.

EPI Research Director Michael Saltsman explained the consequences of similar scheduling proposals in a Crain’s New York op-ed earlier this year. To read the op-ed, click here.

“These bills would reduce job opportunities and flexibility by hamstringing businesses’ ability to react to consumer demand,” said Michael Saltsman, “The members of the City Council should remember they are elected to serve the people of New York City, not union interests.'”


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The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth. In particular, EPI focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment. EPI receives support from restaurants, foundations, and individuals.