Under a new law that is being introduced by Park Slope Council Member Brad Lander, all employers of a certain size would be required to call back those they laid off due to COVID-19.
Lander made the announcement at a rally in Manhattan organized by former workers of the Mariott Marquis who were laid off due to the pandemic. Marriott furloughed 1,200 employees last March, and in December, informed 852 non-union employees that they would lose their jobs on March 12th, 2021.
“A just recovery requires that we center unemployed workers and bring back good jobs,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Workers across our city have suffered for a year, as businesses were forced to close by the pandemic. Over half a million people are out of work, and more than 70% of them are people of color. Black, brown, and immigrant workers must not be left out of our city’s recovery. As the economy re-opens, they need and deserve the right to come back to their jobs.”
The bill, echoing similar legislation in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, “covers non-managerial workers across all sectors, at all employers with revenues of $5 million or more in 2019, who were laid off or furloughed after March 12, 2020, as a result of a lack of business or a reduction in workforce related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lander informs.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Council Member Adrienne Adams of Queens and Council Member Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick.
“When New York City shut down last March, thousands of workers lost their employment through no fault of their own, delivering a significant economic blow to many of our neighbors,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso in a statement. “Giving workers who lost their jobs as a result of the shutdown the right of first refusal to get back their former jobs as employers start to open up and rehire is the fair and right thing to do. Council Member Lander’s Right to Recall bill will deliver economic justice to so many of our workers and is a necessary step toward realizing a just and equitable COVID recovery.”
In Brooklyn, the latest unemployment numbers are not encouraging.
In January, Brooklyn recorded 2nd highest unemployment numbers in New York State, at 13.1%, up from 11.9% in December of last year. Unemployment seems to be stuck at just about 12% or 135,000 people in Brooklyn since October. In addition, about 75,000 residents have dropped out of the labor market – defined as individuals no longer looking for a job – since last February, NYS Department of Labor estimates.
Just a year ago, pre-pandemic, unemployment was at just under 4% or less than 50,000 people, according to NYS Department of Labor data. If we add those that dropped out of labor force and those still actively looking for a job, we have 210,000 people or more than 4 times the pre-pandemic number.