City Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood) held a press conference on the steps of City Hall today to call for increased legal funding for low-wage workers.
“We should protect our workers from wage theft, discrimination and workplace violations,” said the City Councilmember.
Workplace violations were widespread and severe in several major cities, including New York City, according to a study conducted by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in 2008. Problems like denying workers their earned salary and benefits were rampant in the industry.
This call was the first step in unity with Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, Urban Justice Project, Make the Road New York, and representatives from labor unions towards helping low-wage workers against malpractices.
“They are often not offered legal services to fight as the result of the lack of funding,” said Lancman.
The 2016 Office of Criminal Justice (OCJ) annual report found that New York City’s overall investment in civil legal services exceeded $100 million in FY2017. However, the report indicates that a majority of the legal services provided to low-income New Yorkers were related to housing, eviction, and immigration.
“Denying workers the salary or benefits they have earned makes it much more difficult for families to make ends meet and exacerbates the income inequality problem that already plagues our city,” said a Lancman press release.
The two initiatives, Legal Services for Low-Income New Yorkers and Legal Services for the Working Poor, that help low-income New Yorkers have a total budget of about 7.4 million dollars. Most of which is spent on immigration and housing services. Therefore only a fraction of the money is spent in helping low-wage workers.
“We will budget for different services including housing and workers rights and the office of civil justice as well as the city will testify in the hearing,” said the City Councilmember.
Hearing on the issue was held in the City Council Chambers following the press conference.