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The Socialist-backed Caban wants to make it harder for New York companies to lay off workers

As businesses struggle in the wake of the pandemic and a looming recession, a socialist Democratic lawmaker in New York is proposing legislation that would make it harder for all city employers to lay off workers, The Post has learned.

Democrat Socialist-backed Queens Councilwoman Tiffany Caban, along with City Examiner Brad Lander, is pushing for a dramatic expansion of the “Just Cause” law, which bars fast-food companies from laying off or firing workers or their Reducing hours worked by more than 15 percent “without good reason or legitimate economic reason.”

A bill circulated by Caban would expand the law “to cover all workers and employers in the city, regardless of size or salary.”

But the head of a senior New York business group opposed the measure, arguing that such micromanagement of hiring decisions would deter companies from opening stores here and severely damage the Big Apple economy.

“Apart from the recession, this would be the last straw for many employers. It’s essentially the end of employment at will,” said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of Partnership for New York City.

The law also prohibits reducing an employee's hours by more than 15%.
The new rules would expand a law covering fast-food joints.
Getty Images

“I cannot imagine that the sensible leaders of the Council will allow this proposal.”

Other provisions would limit a company’s ability to hire anyone it wants, requiring that any new or open position be filled with workers being laid off for economic reasons, starting with those with the longest seniority.

The bill also provides generous terms for severance pay and prohibits employers from relying on employee data “collected through electronic surveillance” to fire, discipline or promote employees, and prohibits employers from giving advance notice of such surveillance.

The bill also requires a minimum of 15 days to elapse between an initial warning or disciplinary action and a dismissal for cause, unless the dismissal is due to a “blatant failure” by the employee to perform their duties.

Union officials who have seen the draft of the proposed law have reservations.

A provision would allow “non-profit organizations” — such as groups affiliated with the DSA — to sue corporations or the city for alleged violations of the law.

Worker sources say such a move will undermine unions.

Many believe it will drive companies out of New York.
Unions have concerns about the new extensions.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

“It is a transparent power play by the DSA to replace organized labor with its advocacy allies, thereby weakening NYC’s economy,” said a union official who was briefed on the bill and asked not to be identified.

“What’s the point of a union when anyone can sue on your behalf, and what brain-dead person would start a small business when someone can sue you for firing an unprofessional employee?”

Caban defended the bill as protecting workers’ rights and livelihoods.

“No worker should be fired without cause or warning. Yet across New York City, arbitrary and abrupt layoffs occur every day,” said a spokesman for the Astoria City Councilwoman.

“We’ve been looking forward to spending the past year working with a diverse group of stakeholders on a possible expansion of the successful law that ended unfair dismissals in the fast food sector. We have shared some potential options for such an extension with key partners, have not yet finalized legislative language and continue to seek feedback.”

Caban is consulting with unions, advocacy groups and the business community on the proposed law to “build our city’s economy and further solidify New York City as the leading leader for workers’ rights,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a Comptroller Lander spokesman said: “We are pleased to be working with Councilor Caban and workers’ representatives to extend the rights of the just cause to all workers.”

NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez confirmed talks with Caban about legislation to give unionized workers “a collective voice in the workplace”.

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