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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks At The Fair Workweek Rally

May 30, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio: My dear friends, I am so proud of these two wonderful workers, worker-leaders who have spoken so powerfully today. Let’s thank Pierre and Adrianna for all they have done. 

[Cheers]

Listen to what they said. Listen to what they have lived through trying to make ends meet, trying to provide for themselves and their families, and the challenges created. This is not the way it’s supposed to be, is it? This is not what hard working people are supposed to go through, and I really want to thank them because they’re giving voice to what thousands and thousands of people have lived through in this city. And we fancy ourselves and advanced place, a progressive place, but look at what you just heard – people who are treated like workers were 100 years ago, like they were expendable, like all that mattered was the bosses needs and not the worker’s lives and families. [Inaudible] thanks to everyone here, and I congratulate –

[Cheers]

A lot of people should be proud today. And you’re going to hear from some of the leaders of this movement, but it’s had many, many active members, many organizations, many leaders who fought for this day. And so, in addition to folks you’re going to hear from, I want to shoutout some others. I’m just going to do a little rolling applause here. 

First of all, I want to thank my own clergy advisory council that played a leading role in getting us to today. Thank you to all the members –

[Applause] 

I want to thank Make the Road; the Center for Popular Democracy; the Community Service Society; PowHER –

[Applause] 

I want to thank our great Consumer Affair Commissioner Lorelei Salas. And some of the elected officials who have stood with us the whole way – Assemblymembers Felix Ortiz and Dick Gottfried. 

[Applause]

Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Danny Dromm –

[Applause] 

So, thousands of people are going to gain the stability and the respect they deserve when I sign this legislation later today. And I want to just talk about their lives again for a moment. 

Look, you know, the notion that people – they have no say over their own lives, their own schedule – it’s abhorrent to think that parents trying to take care of their kids, trying to make sure they have their doctor appointments, trying to make sure everything’s okay at their kid’s school, or taking care of their own health as working people, or trying to get that second job so they can actually make ends meet. All of that could be impossible because they get that last-minute call demanding that they appear at their work place. And the consequences, as you heard, are quite clear – if you don’t show up, even though it’s supposed to be “voluntary” – if you don’t show up, there could be retaliation. If you don’t show up, you could lose the opportunity for more work ahead. If you don’t show up, you may be turning down the only additional money you’ll see that week. It create really more than a catch 22, it creates an unlivable life.

It’s 2017, in the richest city, in the richest country in the world, and yet, again, it harkens back many decades – the notion that these workers are being treated just like cogs in the machine, rather than being given their human dignity. It’s unbelievable it came to this, and it’s particularly unbelievable it came to this because these are multi-nation corporations who run these fast food restaurants. They have their franchises, but they’re part of these vast corporations. They make a huge amount of money. The CEO’s are amongst the highest paid in our nation, and yet look at the disdain for working people, look at the double standard – it could not go on. It’s the kind of thing you would like to believe would be handled at the national level. It’s the kind of thing you’d like to see our country confront head-on, but we have no such illusions right now, and it’s time for cities all over the country to take matters into our own hands and stand up for working people. 

[Applause]

And it begs that point about how we value people and how we value families, because if you create a situation where families can’t make it, families can’t survive, parents can’t be there for their children – if you create that kind of a situation, it should not be a surprise that families won’t make ends meet, children will end up having less than they deserve, families won’t be healthy. It’s not a surprise if you create the pre-conditions to failure, that you then experience failure. This is not a functional reality, it’s not an acceptable reality, and we had to do something differently. And I’ll tell you something, the situation had gotten so bad that it was literally like watching these companies [inaudible] controlled every aspect of the worker’s lives. There [inaudible] this legislation about not asking one worker to close down a store late at night and then have to be there early in the morning to open up again. You know why we believe that’s so important? Because we think people actually need to sleep if they’re going to do a good day’s work.

[Applause]

We want these workers to be safe on the job, we want the workplace to be healthy, and yet we’re asking people to regularly do their job without even a semblance of decent sleep. Why? Because the companies don’t have enough money? No, they have plenty of money. Because there’s not enough business? Well, we’ve all been in a fast food restaurant lately – there’s plenty of business. It’s just about whether we’re going to respect working people or not. And this legislation makes a very clear statement – in this city, we will respect working people, period. 

[Cheers]

I want to add one more point. You know, every time you change the equation in favor of working people, those voices will come out and say it’s a danger to the stability of our society and the strength of our economy. You could literally play the same tape over and over. Every time there’s been an effort to raise the minimum wage, dire forecasts are heard that suggest the economy will collapse and businesses won’t be able to make it. Every time you talk about giving decent working standards and conditions to every-day people, you hear these horrible projections of what is to come. And it’s kind of funny, because every single time you hear it – all the gloom and doom doesn’t come to pass. We’ve seen it over and over again. Remember the Fight for $15, where so many people here were strong supporters of – the economy was supposed to ground to a halt. Not only here in New York, but all over the country the Fight for $15 is winning and the economy is doing just fine, thank you.

 

[Cheers]

And remember when so many of us fought together for paid sick leave? And we heard that these small businesses –

[Applause]

– these small businesses would go out of business in droves. What have we found, in fact, a few years in? More and more healthy workers, more and more families that can actually take care of themselves, plenty of businesses doing well, and a better, stronger workforce for those businesses – that’s what paid sick leave achieved for all of us, and we should be proud of that.

 

So, my friends, don’t believe the hype you’re going to hear again this time too. You’re going to hear all of the projections of how a fair work week will destroy western civilization. Don’t believe it. We are convinced this is a step forward for decency, it’s a step forward for families living the right way. And we in the city believe in working people. We believe they deserve a chance to have a decent life, and, today, we make a major step forward for that dream and that goal. 

I want to congratulate you all. You fought hard and you won.

[Cheers]

Just a few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

[Cheers]

As I said, I want to now call up some of the people who lead the way and deserve our great respect and thanks. And the first person I’m going to introduce will then in-turn introduce a very, very special guest, who we’re honored to have here with us in New York City.

So, now, let me bring forward our own New Yorker, the President of 32BJ SEIU, Hector Figueroa.

 

 

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