The Chamber's Board Chair pens op-ed: "Kicking small business when it’s down: The NYC Council’s low blow"
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Today, the New York Daily News published an important opinion article by Manhattan Chamber Board Chair Michael Kempner. Here's an excerpt:
Government officials have rightly prioritized public health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the policies enacted to curb the spread of the virus have devastated businesses across the country. Now, in a shameless display of pandemic politics, Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council have unveiled two new bills that would only add to businesses’ misery and could force many to close or lay off more workers.
Now is the time to act quickly to help businesses survive the pandemic. Our members and businesses across the city urgently need help — not a slap in the face from city government.
The first piece of legislation under consideration by the Council would force essential businesses to retain employees other than for narrowly-defined “just cause” reasons, requiring them to enter into costly and time-consuming arbitration to justify layoffs. This policy makes no sense in an era of unprecedented strain on business finances, where many legally cannot operate at all. It would essentially mandate that businesses operate unsustainably — and force many to collapse entirely.
The second bill would make businesses with 100 or more employees pay each essential hourly worker a premium of between $30-$75 per shift during this pandemic. As business declines due to government regulations and restrictions on activity due to COVID-19, additional costs such as this would devastate businesses and give many no choice but to cease operations outright.
There are only two things that could explain such a cavalier attitude about piling on new regulations at a time of unprecedented economic pain. Either the Council doesn’t understand the first thing about the real and growing pressures on small businesses, despite repeatedly claiming to appreciate all that we do. Or elected officials fully understand these pressures and want to score political points nonetheless.