Workers’ Rights Local Government Round Up | Oct 2022

 From its inception, Local Progress has been proudly pro-worker, because we believe that local elected officials can provide transformative leadership to support and empower working people in their communities. This monthly collaboration between Local Progress and the Harvard Labor & Worklife Program will collect and highlight some of the most exciting workers’ rights developments coming from local governments—large and small.

🔎 New Laws And Policies Applicable To Most/All Employers: Contractor Transparency, Earned Sick Leave, Inflation-Adjusted Minimum Wage, and More

➡San Francisco, CA Employers Must Begin Providing Paid Leave During Public Health Emergencies: In June, San Francisco voters passed Proposition G, which just went into effect October 1. This required employers with 100 or more employees worldwide to provide up to 80 hours of paid public health emergency leave to San Francisco-based employees. A “Public Health Emergency” is defined as a local or statewide health emergency related to any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease. Click here to view the ordinance.

➡ Irvine, CA Protects Hotel Workers From Harassment And Limits Their Workloads to Address Ergonomic and Workplace Injury ConcernsIrvine City Council Members passed a new ordinance that aims to protect hotel workers from harassment and improving their working conditions. “The new law requires that hotel workers be issued panic buttons in the event of harassment, with on site security receiving those notifications so they can immediately respond, along with giving the employee time off to report the harassment to the police or to seek counseling. The second part of the law limits the total number of rooms that hotel employees are required to clean on their shift, depending on the size of the hotel. If they exceed that limit, the worker’s income is doubled for that entire shift.” Hotel worker unions like UNITE HERE have advocated for hotel panic buttons to address sexual harassment; they’ve become more common in the aftermath of #MeToo, several other jurisdictions have passed laws requiring panic buttons, including ChicagoNew Jersey; Seattle and Washington State; and others. (For more information on panic-button related policies, view pg. 24 of this report.Click here to view Irvine’s ordinance


➡ Denver, CO Creates And Expands Workforce Training Programs For Clean Energy JobsDenver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency, awarded $2.6 million to six programs that provide training for various skill levels in renewable energy and green construction. 


➡ New York City, NY Wage and Salary Transparency Law Goes Into Effect: Starting November 1, New York will require employers to disclose “a good faith salary range for every job, promotion, and transfer opportunity advertised,” according to the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Wage and salary transparency helps fight race and gender pay gaps. Click here to view the ordinance passed earlier this year.


➡ New York City, NY Turns Vacant Newsstands Into E-Bike Charging StationsSpurred by the organizing work of Los Deliveristas Unidos, an organization of bicycle delivery workers, Mayor Eric Adams and Senator Chuck Schumer announced a plan to create rest stops and charging hubs across New York City for food delivery workers.


➡ St. Louis, MO Council Using ARPA Money to Support Early Childhood Education Workforce Development: Led by Local Progress member Lisa Clancy, the St. Louis City Council approved $5.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to be directed towards Child Care Aware, a nonprofit that administers public programs to boost pay for child care workers.

🏛 Improving Conditions For Public Employees Working For Local Government

➡ San Antonio, TX Increases City Workers’ Wages Between 7 And 20%San Antonio City Council, led by Local Progress member Teri Castillo and through advocacy by AFSCME Local 2021, passed a budget that increased city worker wages by at least 7%. This is made up of a 5 percent across-the-board raise and market adjustments of 2 percent or more, based on what other area employers are paying for similar work. These raises are a critical response to the challenges with hiring and retention facing local governments. Click here for more information about the budget.

➡ Denver, CO Votes To Provide Paid Family Leave For City Employees At No Charge To EmployeesCity and County of Denver employees will soon be entitled to a new, free family leave benefit called the ‘Care Bank.’ The Denver City Council voted to decline participation in the state’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan, allowing the city to offer an enhanced benefit. The Care Bank will give employees up to eight weeks, or 320 hours, of leave paid by the city that can be used for qualifying self-care or care of family members. Click here to view the resolution

💥 Enforcement Activity by Local Agencies​

➡ San Diego, CA Reaches $46.5 Million Settlement With Instacart For Improperly Classifying Their EmployeesThe San Diego City Attorney sued Instacart in 2019 to seek restitution for California workers improperly classified as independent contractors instead of employees. Under California law, being classified as “employees” is crucial in order to be reimbursed for expenses incurred during work. San Diego’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the City Attorney was responsible for bringing this suit, the first lawsuit of its kind in California. Over 300,000 workers will be eligible to receive restitution pay once the settlement is finalized. Because of ongoing litigation involving the legality of California’s Proposition 22, which sought to cement such workers’ status as independent contractors, the question of workers’ current ongoing status is unresolved. 

➡ Lynn, MA Reinstates Their Wage Theft Advisory Committee: Four years ago, Lynn passed a law to fight wage theft and established a Wage Theft Advisory Committee which would provide support to workers who experience wage theft and seek to litigate their claim. While the committee underwent a hiatus during the pandemic, the committee reestablished themselves elected a union organizer as the head of the committee.

🧩 Works In Progress: Proposed Legislation On Workers’ Rights Issues

➡ Madison, WI Contemplating Wage Boost For Non-Union City Employees: Madison City Council is proposing an increase in the Mayor’s proposed city budget to include a 3% wage hike for 1,400 permanent employees who are not in protective service unions (police, fire, or bus driver unions). These wage increases would be critical for non-union employees, who comprise a significant portion of the city’s labor force after most municipal employees lost bargaining rights in 2011 under Wisconsin state law. As a result of losing their unionizing rights, their wages have increased at a slower rate than their unionized counterparts.


➡ Berkeley, CA Nearing Vote Fair Work Week BillFollowing in the footsteps of its neighbors San Jose, Emeryville, and San Francisco, among others, Berkeley City Council is nearing a vote to pass a fair work week ordinance of their own. Click here to view the proposed ordinance.

The Austin Independent School District (AISD) Commits To Adopting Living Wages, Safety And Apprenticeship Standards, And Monitoring For Workers Ahead Of Bond Election: On November 8th, Austin voters will vote on a $2.4 billion bond to provide the AISD with the money to build new schools, install security vestibules, revamp sports fields and make other critical infrastructure improvements. Ahead of this vote, the AISD committed to utilizing the funds to improve the working conditions of construction workers by ensuring they’re paid a living wage, to strengthen safety and apprenticeship standards, and hire local workersView the resolution here.


📝 National Employment Law Project— Fighting Labor Policy Preemption That Undermines Local Power and the Democratic Process: The Experience of Colorado, Missouri, and Texas: This report discusses the preemption challenges faced by many localities and also shares best practices from successful organizing efforts to fight back in those three states. 

📝 U.S. Department of Labor Worker Organizing Resource and Knowledge Center: This new resource provides information to workers about the mechanics and importance of joining or forming a union. 

📝 Parenting without Predictability: Precarious Schedules, Parental Strain, and Work-Life Conflict by Sigrid Luhr, Daniel Schneider, and Kristen Harknettand Older Workers with Unpredictable Schedules: Implications for Well-being and Job Retention by Leah R. Abrams, Kristen Harknett, and Daniel Schneider. These two reports detail the importance of fair workweek laws for parents and older workers.

📝 The Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)— State of Working XVarious members of EARN issue reports about the state of workers within their states. The 2022 state-specific analyses so far include ConnecticutGeorgiaKentuckyNew HampshireOhioOregonPennsylvaniaUtahVirginiaWashington, and Wisconsin. If your jurisdiction falls within one of these states, data contained in the report could be useful for your own worker advocacy and legislation efforts.

We are eager to hear from you! Since this round up is a pilot effort, let us know your thoughts over the next few months. If you’re inspired by something in this newsletter, let us know! We are eager to share your wins! Please share any new policies, bills, campaigns, guidance, enforcement, or public actions that advance workers’ rights at the local level. You can submit to the round up by emailing Vishal Reddy at