Some incredible union victories have been happening in New York in the last few months — Starbucks in Buffalo, REI and the New York Times in Manhattan, and most recently, Amazon warehouse JFK8 in Staten Island. If you’d like to see the same change at your workplace, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your federal rights under the National Labor Relations Act. On the state level it gets a bit more complicated. Here’s what you need to know in New York:
What are my basic rights as a worker in New York?
Every worker, regardless of industry and immigration status, has the right to sick and safe leave, the right to be paid minimum wage, the right to be compensated for overtime work, the right to organize, the right to a discrimination-free workplace, and the right to a safe and healthy workplace.
Read the New York City Workers’ Bill of Rights.
What do I need to know about organizing in New York?
The New York State Employment Relations Act states that workers have the right to organize, bargain collectively and strike without interference from an employer. These protections are enforced on a state level by the New York Division of Labor Standards.
Is New York an at-will employment state?
Yes. At-will employment means employers can terminate workers at any time for (almost) any reason, unless the employee is protected by a contract or union agreement. If a union contract requires “just cause” for firing, employers have to prove they have just cause even if they are in an at-will employment state.
Is New York a right-to-work state?
No. This means that if you get a job in a unionized workplace, your membership in the union may be required. Workers in states without right-to-work laws enjoy higher wages and better benefits than those in right-to-work states because unions are able to better negotiate on their behalf.
Are there industry-specific protections in New York?
If you are in New York City, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection provides specific protections to fast food workers, retail workers, freelance workers, delivery workers, and paid care workers, regardless of immigration status. Included in all of these is the right to file a complaint.
How do I file a labor complaint if I’m not in a union?
In New York state, the New York Department of Labor handles labor complaints. You can mail in a form or call 1-888-52-LABOR.
In New York City, the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection handles labor complaints. You can file a complaint online.