New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Jobs

In these difficult economic times we must reform our regressive tax system, not create new draconian sales taxes that burden our City's working families, while cutting vital services like health care and education that we need. We should create new economic incentive programs to encourage growth and job creation. I had the privilege of working on one such progressive economic program, the Second Avenue Subway Construction Grants Program, while serving as Chief of Staff to&nbsp;<a href="http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ad=073&quot; target="_BLANK"><strong>Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing</strong></a>. This program would provide economic and technical support to small businesses that were negatively affected by the construction of the Second Avenue Subway. Through innovative economic development and tax reform we will combat the threat of rows of empty store fronts and maintain a vibrant community by helping to keep small independently owned and operated businesses open and preserving jobs through even the most difficult of economic times.

Job Protections for Essential Workers Including Whistleblowers Proposed by Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander and Speaker Johnson

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

“Just Cause” Legislation Would Provide Protections for Essential Workers During the Pandemic

New York, NY—Today, New York City Council Members Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, and Speaker Corey Johnson introduced legislation to protect essential workers from termination without “Just Cause.” Essential workers include healthcare workers, first responders, utility workers, and those on the frontline including those at supermarkets, making deliveries, and anyone working at an essential business as defined by Executive Order. Heroic health care and warehouse workers have faced retaliation for speaking out against unsafe conditions where they work. Essential businesses would be required to provide progressive discipline and a “just cause” within a week of termination subject to arbitration, a private right of action, with essential employees able to recover back pay and employers subject to fines of up to $2,500 per violation.

“No one should lose their job simply for asking for protective equipment during a pandemic. Our city’s essential workers are heroes and deserve to be treated that way complete with job protections for putting their lives on the line,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Brad Lander, and our brothers and sisters in labor for joining us in our fight to protect essential workers.”

“At a time when the very lives of our hospital and health care workers are on the line, it is unconscionable that they would be fired for ringing the alarm bell about health and safety issues,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “It is imperative that we stand up for these doctors, nurses, and health care workers, listen to and lift up their concerns, and ensure that they cannot be unjustly fired for telling the truth about the conditions they face.”

Over the last month, private hospitals have issued guidance to their workers about what public communications is deemed acceptable. Some of the guidance threatened workers with termination if the communication is not first approved by executive-level staff. New York City’s 11 public hospitals have not issued such warnings and the Council Members urge the private hospital network and all healthcare institutions to follow the lead of New York City’s Health + Hospitals and allow their frontline workers to speak out without fear of an unfair firing. 

LaborPress Thanking All Of New York City’s Workers For Their Sacrifices During COVID-19 Outbreak by Ben Kallos

Thanking All Of New York City’s Workers For Their Sacrifices During COVID-19 Outbreak

New York is currently facing a pandemic that is challenging many of the systems we take for granted. Millions of us must now work, learn, and live — exclusively at home. We are able to do this because of the countless heroes who are keeping this City’s essential infrastructure running.

While many of us are safe in our homes, there are workers, some making as little as $15 an hour some without benefits, who are putting their health and their families’ health at risk to keep New York City safe. These workers, who do so much, also receive little recognition for their efforts, as much of their work is done out of sight. Maintenance workers, cleaners, transit workers, healthcare workers, grocers, all have been affected by this pandemic in unseen ways. Join us in showing our appreciation. Ask yourself these questions:

Crain's New York Five steps to save small business during the pandemic by Ben Kallos Teresa Ghilarducci

Five steps to save small business during the pandemic

The government is shutting down the city’s small businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve. As we take this drastic step to save the patients needing serious medical attention, we must do our part to save our vulnerable small businesses and our economy.

Five steps can help save small businesses during this pandemic-induced recession, inspired by student loan policies designed to relieve and manage debt. Many of us with student debt knew that if we had difficulty finding that first job, had a gap between jobs, or worse, we could defer payments until things got better. The federal government allows loan forgiveness if you make career choices benefitting the public.

While big corporations, government, and the information economy may survive, according to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis there are 461,000 small businesses employing 4.1 million people endangered by the economic crisis. Bold and urgent steps can help save our city’s mom and pop shops and their workers.

Many small business owners need or will need relief from paying rent, assurance they won’t get evicted, and payroll support until they can reopen. As the federal government debates its next move, New York City can take these five steps to save small businesses:

  1. Stop Commercial Evictions
  2. Defer Property Taxes
  3. Defer Commercial Rent Payments
  4. Defer Mortgage Payments
  5. Guarantee Jobs and Healthcare for Workers

As Congress again uses American tax dollars to help banks with zero percent interest rates, we need something back. Big banks getting federal help should be required to defer mortgage payments for commercial and residential landlords whose tenants are impacted by the coronavirus. Similarly, New York City could also defer its property tax collections.

Commercial and residential landlords who claim deferrals from mortgage and tax payments should be required to defer rent payments from affected tenants affected. For its part, New York City should also stop commercial evictions, which is already has done

Letter to Mayor de Blasio Concerning the Effect of COVID-19 on Nonprofit Businesses

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing Non-profit organizations, specifically human service providers, to operate under heavy financial burdens. Many are providing vital services under serious challenges, while others face mandated closures. One of the biggest challenges being faced, include not being able to meet contracted service requirements. While non-profits face these increasing challenges, they continue to have fiscal obligations such as rent, payroll, and other overhead costs that are primarily paid for by City provided funds. These funds are typically tied to unit of service requirements established in their City contracts.

Many providers are reporting that clients are not able to participate in person for safety reasons and many have started utilizing phone and video conferencing as opposed to in-person meetings. Although, these organizations are being innovative in delivering services, most are not currently equipped to do so and all have incurred increased costs creating cash flow concerns.

Providers are also communicating other issues affecting staff. Some have staff who are unable to work onsite safely due to social distancing guidelines but could work remotely. However for various reasons, including contractual language, providers cannot allow for telecommuting as an option for staff.  Still other providers have workers who cannot practically work from home, such as food servers, who they must send home without a guarantee of being able to pay these workers to stay home. The City must provide relief for these affected providers.

LaborPress Union & Nonunion Workers United Against ‘Open Shop’ Abuses by Naeisha Rose

Union & Nonunion Workers United Against ‘Open Shop’ Abuses

Councilman Ben Kallos spent his 39th birthday Feb. 5th rallying with construction workers. 

“All we ask New Line, one of the five or six members of this association, is to pay back the wages,” said Kallos. 

NYCA consists of eight members, according to the group’s website. They include New Line Structures, Leeding Builders Group, L&M Builders Group, Lettire Construction Corp., Ryder Construction, Triton Construction Company, Noble Construction Group and Hudson Meridian Construction. 

“We called their number, and they asked if they were expecting us,” said Kallos. “Hell yeah they are expecting us!”

According to Kallos, he attempted to contact NYCA, but apparently reached “a front” instead.

“Some company called The Berman group in Suite 1920 said we don’t know what NYCA is; we don’t know why they have us in their address or why our number is there; but no, we won’t take the letter from one of your workers who experienced wage theft,” Kallos explained before adding, “I will be here day in and day out until we get everybody paid back!”