Workers in New York: Fighting for Rights

workers’ rights

It seems Mayor de Blasio wants to fight for more rights for New York City workers, in particular, for paid vacation.  He is attempting to make New York the first US state to “require private businesses to provide time off with pay.”

Some small business owners in the region are not in favor of this, especially given the additional strain the increased minimum wage has put on them.  If the proposal becomes law, business owners would be forced to give their full time employees a minimum of 10 paid vacation days a year; a number that would be pro-rated for part-time employees.  This would be in addition to paid sick leave.

While some business owners would like to do this, they claim it is just not realistic and that the Mayor is not looking out for SME owners to help them “make ends meet.”

Meanwhile around 150 people are set to lose their jobs altogether as AT&T closes its Syracuse call center.  The center is moving to Orange Park, Florida where lower wages will be paid.  According to the Communications Workers of America Union, approximately 50 people have accepted the transfers, leaving 100 without work.  So now union workers are calling upon the Save NY Call Center Jobs Coalition to pass a bill to require NY call center operators to inform the Department of Labor should they move 30 percent or more of their workers out of the state.  Should they still go ahead, they would not be privy to any state benefits for five years.

Role Models for International Women’s Day: Michellene Davis, Christine Stearns and Trish Zita

Just in time for International Women’s Day, three out of the ten people named to the ROI Power List Influencers of 2019 are women! Michellene Davis, Christine Stearns and Trish Zita were recognized for their unique and valuable contributions to the government.

Of these women, Michellene Davis is the only minority woman who was recognized as an Influencer. Michellene Davis is a trailblazer with an impressive list of accomplishments: a noted trial attorney, she created the New Jersey’s Department of the Treasury’s Office of Supplier Diversity and Division of Minority and Women-owned Businesses and was the youngest lottery CEO for the state of New Jersey. Michellene Davis is a public advocate and lobbyist who is also an inspirational speaker.

Christine Stearns is an attorney and healthcare lobbyist who specializes in the healthcare industry. She is an attorney who serves on the board of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and the Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice. In 2005, she co-chaired the Governor of New Jersey’s Health Care and Senior Service Policy Group.

Trish Zita is the co-founder of the Kaufman Zita Group and the firm’s managing business partner. A powerful and effective lobbyist, she also represents companies as well as non-profit organizations. She was selected by Governor Phil Murphy to serve on the Environment and Energy Transition Committee and has received several awards for her work.

These three women set an inspiring example of leadership.

Upcoming Conferences

This month and next month there are a variety of conferences and meet-ups in New York.  Here we take a look at three of them:

On March 11th, starting at 8am and continuing until March 12th at 4.30pm, New York’s Grand Hyatt will be home to the Local Online Advertising Conference.  Hosted by Borrell Associates, a whole slew of industry leaders will come together at the largest gathering of local digital media executives. Now in its 10th year, attendees will be privy to top speakers tackle paramount trends within the industry. Note:  the conference is all about local, digital, and advertising. Between 300 and 500 executives attend each year.

A week later the Marriott, Brooklyn Bridge will open its doors to the Responsible Business Summit. With approximately 500 attendees, the two-day event from 18th-19th March is now in its 7th year.  Speakers include: Assistant Secretary General UN Environment, Satya Tripathi, Mayor of Philadelphia James F. Kennedy, CEO of LanzaTech Jennifer Holmgren, President of the SASB Foundation Matthew Welch and more. Supplemental to the summit, participants can take advantage of the Sunrise EC running club led by Ethical Corporation MD Liam Dowd, a mingling of SDG-focused networking, whereby attendees can share ideas, and the Start-up Showcase where one can benefit from innovators to aid in the acceleration of goals and ambitions.

Next month The Spring Investor Summit arrives in New York between April 1 and 2.  This event facilitates the networking of small and microcap firms with high-level, institutional and retail investors. Set in the stunning Essex House, participants can enjoy the conference while looking out at New York’s Central Park! Hailed as “the fastest growing investor conference in the country,” its goal is “to highlight the most compelling publicly traded companies under $5 billion in market cap across all sectors.”  200 companies will present; 1,200 institutional and retail investors will be present and 2,000 one-on-one meetings will be held.   

Getting Around in New York City

Transportation issues in New York City are nothing new.  Parking is horrendous; driving is awful and the subway has never gotten the best rep.  But now a recent report has found that approximately one third of New Yorkers do not even live within walking distance of a subway stop.  Plus, this issue seems to fall overwhelmingly within lower-income concentrated neighborhoods like Brooklyn and northeast Queens.

NYC’s transportation problem is not limited to the subway.  Dockless bike and scooter firm Lime also commissioned a study and its conclusions were similar in that again it is the poorest neighborhoods taking the fall for lack of viable transportation options.  With Lime, Bird has been lobbying officials in the city to improve micromobility.  And Lime is arguing that if e-scooters became legal, this would improve the mobility of 1.5 million New Yorkers, providing them with much better access to local transit.  With a scooter, they could actually be a mere 10 minutes away from subway stations.

There have been some strides though in this area.  In 2018 an endeavor was taken by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to introduce a dockless bike share program in underserved areas via Citi Bike.

And in other transportation news for the city, we are about to witness the end of the MetroCard.  Plans from the MTA include the testing of a new fare payment system, dubbed OMNY – One Metro New York in an effort to enable New Yorkers to “experience all that the region offers.

NYC Stores: From Reality to Virtual and Back Again

Shopping for clothing has never been easier or more choice-oriented.  Do you want to actually go into a real store, or would you like to browse various outfits from the comfort of your couch?  In other words, if you’re in New York (or other fashion capitals around the world) what is your preference:  online or inhouse?

While online American clothing purchases are on the increase (27% in 2018 compared to 20.7% in 2015), these figures still suggest people are choosing to go into a store and try on the clothing.  It seems that figures are increasing but that people still want to actually put on a piece of clothing to see how it looks and feels.

So where is New York in all of this? Well, Black Friday figures for 2018 instore sales dropped by 7 percent with online sales increasing by 24 percent.  Still, evidence is showing that both options are attractive to shoppers and for different reasons. Therefore, the ultimate answer might be  just that; to keep both online and instore clothing stores stocked.  In New York some stores are getting their heads around that concept.

One example of this is direct-to-consumer brand Wardrobe NYC. Originally launched in 2017 exclusively as an online store, the luxury clothing store founded by Christine Centenera and Josh Goot just opened a pop-up in Soho. Its plan is to remain open temporarily – just until March 24 – and will offer customers all three of the brand’s existing collections: Tailored, Sport and Street.  The concept behind the firm’s anti-fast fashion  brand is the production, manufacture and sale of apparel in a streamlined way to simplify choosing everyday clothing.

It seems that according to a recent Forbes article:

“The current consensus in the retail industry is that, despite falling instore sales, 2019 will not mark the death of the physical store. Instead, it will coexist happily with a digital ecosystem.”

It’s time for clothing stores in the world’s fashion capitals to keep abreast of changes and adapt accordingly.

Peter Luger’s Steakhouse

A look at the success of Peter Luger’s steakhouse – a restaurant that has been thriving in Brooklyn, NY for over 130 years. Described as the “quintessential, old school NYC steakhouse experience.”  According to the eatery’s VP, David Berson promote “simple goodness” family owned business is one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in the city and has made Zagat’s list of Top Restaurants for over 30 years.

Recent New York Transactions

business transactions

New York is a hub for business transactions.  Here we take a look at three recent ones.

The Parker New York has been acquired by GFI Capital Resources Group and Elliot Management Corporation affiliates.  $100m+  has been committed by these companies for renovation purposes.  With this money residential condo units will be incorporated into the premises.  Thomas Juul-Hansen is leading the design team.

The Little Rock Sedgwick Building has been purchased for $4.5m by New York’s Woodmont Hardin.  Located at 400 Hard Road, it has nearly 50,000 square feet office space capacity.  It is being sold by Responsive Education Solutions.

A new position if 764,359 shares of Avanos Medical Inc has been purchased by Bank of New York Mellon Corp in the third quarter.  This has been valued at approximately $52,359,000. Other shares were purchased by Bollard Group LLC (valued at $100,000); Whittier Trust Co (valued at $110,000) and Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio (valued at $136,000).

NYC and Minimum Wage

$15 NYC minimum wage went into effect January 1, 2019

January 1, 2019 marked the implementation of NYC’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.  Any place of work that has 10 members of staff or more, has to pay them at least $15 per hour.  NYC will be the 43rd state to raise the minimum wage legally like this. In this article, we look at the impacts of that.

In addition, the first US city that is implementing minimum wage for ride-sharing driver employees is NYC.  A requirement has been passed by NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission for “high volume” drivers of such vehicles to be entitled to $17.22 after expenses which would result in an approximate $10,000 annual raise.

Although in theory it’s great according to bakery boss Amy Scherber who has a 210-person staff throughout seven bakeries in NYC:

“It is a very tricky and delicate situation.  We’d love to give a good raise to every person, but the reality is there’s just not that much extra money around.”  Plus there is the added complication of needing to give raises to those employees who were already making $15 before 2019.  You can’t just “raise the bottom rung.”

So how is the raised minimum wage likely to help?  Well, according to a recent New York Times article, $70,000 is required per year for a two-parent, two-kid family to look in Brooklyn. This is assuming both parents are making $16 an hour.  As such, $15 per hour is still not going to cut it.

NYC Infrastructure Developments

Infrastructure

Last month it was announced that NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan will receive a capital investment of $52 million. The money will be put toward enhancing infrastructure there.  This includes:  automatic fire sprinkler upgrade; new, safer patient-accessible windows; emergency power system; roof replacement. Cooling towers and the Medium Pressure Steam Condensate System unit will also be replaced.  According to Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“We are proud to have the largest public hospital system in the nation. NYC Heath + Hospitals/Metropolitan has been a mainstay in this community for decades, and this investment will help the hospital get the upgrades needed to continue serving the community.”

It is hoped that all parts of the project will be completed by 2021.

Over in Hudson Square, watch out for more mega infrastructure, this time from Google. The plan is to build a 1.7+ million sq.ft campus there spanning 315 and 345 Hudson Street and 550 Washington Street for a $1 billion price tag.  It will be called Google Hudson Square. CEO and President of Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde said that:

“It’s likely that we’ll not only compete with but surpass Silicon Valley because we literally don’t just have a tech industry, we’ve got technology transforming all our major industries.”

This is especially the case with the addition of Amazon HQ2 in the area.