Welcome back with the fifth edition of the Workers’ Rights Round Up! Below, we’ve collected powerful workers’ rights policies that passed across the country over the last few months. If you have any policies or programs that you think should be uplifted in the next workers’ rights round up or if you want to be connected to the leaders of any of the policies mentioned here, reply to this email or email Vishal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been almost a year since we began this collaboration between Local Progress Impact Lab and the State and Local Enforcement Project at the Harvard Center for Labor and a Just Economy. There’s so much news this time around that we wanted to share some highlights:
- Evanston passes a fair workweek ordinance, led by Local Progress Member Mayor Daniel Biss
- West Hollywood minimum wage rises to the highest in the country at $19.08 due to 2021 ordinance passed by Local Progress Member Lindsey Horvath
- Berkeley passes ordinance requiring major construction contractors to provide benefits for their Workers, led by Local Progress Member Jesse Arreguín
- Pittsburgh Mayor establishes Office of Equal Protection to enforce local labor laws
- San Diego County, CA creates innovative Workplace Justice Fund for victims of wage theft
⚖ Laws and Policies Applicable to Private Employers/Employees
LP MEMBERS LEADING THE WAY:
Evanston, IL Passes a Fair Workweek Ordinance: Led by Local Progress member Mayor Daniel Biss, Evanston passed a fair workweek ordinance. The fair workweek ordinance will require employers to provide workers with advance good-faith estimates of the duration, frequency, and timing of possible shifts. The ordinance covers employers with more than one hundred employees and/or entities that are associated with a franchisor that has more than 30 locations globally. Industries covered include hospitality, food service and restaurants, retail, warehouse services, manufacturing, and building services. Click here to view the ordinance.
West Hollywood, CA Minimum Wage Rises to the Highest in the Country at $19.08: West Hollywood’s minimum wage increased to $19.08 from $18.35 due to an ordinance passed by their City Council in 2021. This sets the West Hollywood minimum wage as the highest in the country. The effort to pass that ordinance was led by then West Hollywood Councilmember (and now current LA County Supervisor) and Local Progress member Lindsey Horvath. The ordinance ensures the minimum wage increase is determined by local price increases since it uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA area. The 2021 ordinance mandates that the minimum wage increase shall be no less than 1% but also no more than 4%. Click here to view the ordinance, and click here to view more details about West Hollywood’s implementation of the minimum wage increases. Numerous other localities across the country also experienced minimum wage increases on July 1 due to automatic-increase provisions in their state or local minimum wage laws, including Chicago, Cook County, localities in California, and localities in Oregon.
New York City, NY Establishes Minimum Wage Pay Standards For Gig Food Delivery Workers: In June, New York City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DWCP) released a rule that established that app-based delivery workers must be paid at least $17.96 an hour, not including tips. This would affect more than 60,000 delivery workers, and it was the culmination of years of organizing from Los Deliveristas Unidos. The DWCP had the authority to set the minimum wage for app-based delivery workers via an ordinance passed in 2021 by New York City Council, led by New York City Comptroller, Local Progress member, and then-City Council member Brad Lander. Doordash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats are currently litigating this ordinance; a temporary restraining order is delaying the effective date until at least July 31, when oral arguments will occur. Click here for more details about the minimum-pay rate.
Columbus, OH City Council Bans Salary History Inquiries: The Columbus City Council passed an ordinance that would prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from inquiring about a job candidate’s salary and/or screening candidates based on their salary history. The ordinance applies to public and private employers, but also includes some exemptions: “actions authorized by specific federal, state, or local laws, internal promotions, voluntary and unprompted disclosure of salary history by a job candidate, verification of non-salary-related information, re-hires within three years of termination, positions subject to collective bargaining agreements, and federal, state, and local government employers except for the City of Columbus.” Click here to view the ordinance.
Columbus, OH City Council Protects Freelance Workers’ Wages: The Columbus City Council passed an ordinance that would provide basic wage protections to freelance workers. The ordinance applies to any individual freelance worker hired by a business located within city limits. The ordinance requires the hiring party to provide a written contract for work that exceeds $250 over a period of 120 days. If no payment date is specified on the contract, payment must be provided within 30 days of service completion. Click here to view the ordinance. Other jurisdictions that have similar laws include New York City, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
New York City, NY Releases Final Rules to Begin Regulating the Role of Artificial Intelligence in Work Force Decisions: New York City passed an ordinance in 2021 that regulated the role of artificial intelligence in work force decisions. That ordinance, the first of in the nation of its kind, prohibits employers or employment agencies from using an automated employment decision tool (AEDT) to make an employment decision unless the tool is audited for bias annually; the employer publishes a public summary of the audit; and the employer provides certain notices to applicants and employees who are subject to screening by the tool. The Department of Worker and Consumer Protection released its final rules, which will enable it to now begin enforcing the ordinance. Click here to view the 2021 ordinance.
New York City, NY Bans Weight and Height Discrimination: New York City passed a law that would add weight and height to the list of characteristics—which already included race, gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation—that are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and access to public accommodations. Click here to view the ordinance.
📃 Improving Conditions For Employees of City Contractors
Several localities included apprenticeship requirements and/or prevailing wage requirements in their contracting requirements. Apprenticeship programs help create high quality jobs by creating well-paid pathways for untrained workers to become skilled workers in a particular field. A “prevailing wage” typically refers to the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. Setting a prevailing wage requirement ensures that contracted workers are not underpaid for their labor.
LP MEMBERS LEADING THE WAY:
Berkeley, CA Passes Ordinance Requiring Major Construction Contractors to Provide Benefits for Their Workers: Berkeley City Council approved an ordinance that would require larger construction contractors to provide apprenticeship programs and health care coverage for their workers. The ordinance will apply to construction projects of “50,000 square feet or more, which roughly translates to a 25-unit apartment building.” The ordinance, pushed by Local Progress member Mayor Jesse Arreguín, is the first of its kind in California. Click here to view the ordinance.
Barre City, VT City Council Uses Contracting Power to Raise Labor Standards and Incentivize Hiring of Disadvantaged Groups: The Barre City Council adopted a “Community Investment Ordinance” with two components. First, it included a Responsible Contractor Ordinance requiring contractors to pay prevailing wages and benefits, including healthcare. Second, it included a provision that creatively “incentivizes hiring local residents, women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans” by subtracting two percent from bids with a requisite plan to hire people from those groups, thereby making their bids for government contracts lower and therefore more competitive in the bidding process. Click here to view the ordinance.
Bellevue, WA City Council Uses Contracting Powers to Advance Apprenticeships: The Bellevue City Council passed an ordinance applicable to public work contracts with an estimated cost exceeding $2 million to include a requirement that no less than 15% of all labor hours be performed by apprentices. Click here to view the ordinance.
Boston, MA Improves Safety for Workers at Major Construction and Demolition Sites: Boston passed a new construction safety ordinance that applies to any construction projects larger than 50,000 square feet and all demolition projects for buildings 4 stories or larger. It has three main components. First, an OSHA-trained safety coordinator must be present at the construction site. Second, all construction and demolition projects must submit a safety affidavit as part of their permitting process. Third, builders must provide safety orientations to new workers and hold pre-shift meetings to explain potential risks during the work. Click here to view the ordinance.
Centre County, PA Board of Commissioners Raises Labor Standards for City Contractors: The Centre County Board of Commissioners approved a Responsible Contractor Ordinance (RCO). The RCO applies only to public construction contracts over $250,000. The ordinance will require the county to only “use contractors that have at least 70% of their craft labor workforce employed on such projects as either trained journeyperson workers or registered apprentices enrolled in federal or state-approved apprenticeship training programs.” Additionally, the ordinance imposes prevailing wage requirements on contractors. Click here to view the ordinance.
Cuyahoga County, OH Council Passes Anti-Wage Theft Legislation: Led in part by the grassroots coalition Guardians for Fair Work, the Cuyahoga County Council voted to pass an ordinance that ensured that Cuyahoga County will no longer contract with companies who have committed wage theft violations. Unlike other local governments however, Cuyahoga County will not create its own enforcement body but instead rely on state and federal processes for investigating potential violations. The ordinance “debars any company with a history of wage theft for at least three years, at which point, the penalty would be lifted.” Click here to view the ordinance.
San Jose, CA City Council Strengthens Wage Theft Policies by Including Public Works Contracts Prior to an update this spring, a city law disqualifying contractors with a history of wage theft violations excluded public works contracts. The San Jose City Council updated the ordinance to remove the exception for public works contracts; however, employers that can demonstrate a plan for future compliance, including a complaint process (such as that in a collective bargaining agreement), will not automatically be disqualified. In addition, the ordinance expanded the city’s search for violations to include a broader listing of past violations than was previously the case. Click here to view the ordinance.
🏛 Improving Conditions for Public Employees
Allegheny County, PA County Council Raises Minimum Wage to $18 in 2024 and to $20 in 2026 for All Hourly County Employees: Overriding a veto of the County Executive, the Allegheny County Council passed an ordinance setting a pay floor for all hourly county employees, including full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, with a minimum wage for those workers set at $18/hour in 2024. Additionally, the minimum wage will increase to $19 in 2025 and to $20/hour in 2026.
New Orleans, LA Workers Now Have the Right to Organize: The New Orleans City Council passed a “RIght to Organize” ordinance codifying city employees’ right to organize. The ordinance creates collective bargaining processes and timelines, and requires the council to hire a “labor relations advisor” to mediate potential disputes. Ordinance supporters hope it will help overcome challenges with hiring and retention in city government. Click here to view the ordinance and the passed amendments.
💪🏽 Strengthening Labor Enforcement + Adding Dedicated Labor Personnel
Chicago, IL Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Executive Order Creates a Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations Position: The executive order establishes a Deputy Mayor for Labor Relations position that will “allow coordination to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of Chicago, in addition to improving working conditions, advancing new job opportunities for employment, and protecting workers’ rights.” Mayor Johnson also released executive orders that established a Deputy Mayor for Community Safety and a Deputy Mayor for Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Rights. Click here to view the executive order.
Pittsburgh, PA Mayor Establishes Office of Equal Protection to Enforce Local Labor Laws: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey announced creation of a three-person Office of Equal Protection which will enforce labor laws, including a 2010 service worker prevailing-wage ordinance and a 2020 paid sick-leave act. Labor enforcement previously fell under the city controller’s office. The new office will also include an American with Disabilities Act coordinator to ensure the city’s internal practices comply with disability rights law. A report authored by the city controller’s office that demonstrated the need for a labor enforcement office helped spark this effort.
San Diego County, CA Board of Supervisors Creates Innovative Workplace Justice Fund for Victims of Wage Theft: The San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that formally established the County’s Workplace Justice Fund and allotted $100,000 to the fund. The fund will be administered by the County’s Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement (OLSE), who will exercise discretion over which workers’ applications they accept. The fund would provide payments to victims of wage theft with outstanding wage orders from the state labor commissioner’s office, and the County will pursue the outstanding payments from their employer. Click here to view the ordinance.
San Francisco, CA City Attorney Permitted to Sue Companies that Abruptly Cut Janitorial and Security Jobs: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to better protect workers from unlawful layoffs, an ordinance in part inspired by Twitter’s sudden termination of 48 custodians in December. City law already required retention of employees working with a building’s prior contractor for the first 90 days of a new contract (the “transition employment period”). Under the new ordinance, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement can investigate and enforce the requirements; the city attorney and affected employees may also file a lawsuit. Click here to view the ordinance.