Monthly Archives

January 2017


The Villager: Johnson calls Trump ‘pathological liar’ at Wash. Sq. rally

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Hundreds of people — mostly young — rallied in Washington Square Park on Wednesday evening hours after President Donald Trump signed two executive orders — one to build a Mexican border wall, the other to cut funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” including New York City.

It had also been learned that Trump does, in fact, plan to implement a ban — which is being described as temporary, but could possibly extend longer — on immigration from certain Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

The The emergency rally was hastily organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Speakers included Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour, along with local politicians Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Councilmember Corey Johnson.

Johnson, who represents the Village and Chelsea, gave some of the evening’s strongest remarks.

“My mother’s grandparents came from Ireland,” he said. “My father was adopted from Seoul, South Korea, and brought here by an American couple when he was 3 years old. Anyone who is not Native American is an immigrant in the United States of America.”

Johnson lambasted Trump, saying, “We have a leader who is not just a demagogue, but a pathological liar with no impulse control, and the facts mean nothing to him.

“We in New York City are going to be the face of resistance,” he pledged. “Forty percent of New Yorkers are foreign born, Why are we the greatest city in the world? Because of our people. …

“America is stronger than one man,” the councilmember continued. “And let’s not forget that our side got 3 million more votes in the election,” he added, as the crowd cheered.

He blasted Trump’s “stupid wall,” drawing more cheers.

“Fair-minded New Yorkers are not going to stand by and let you pit us against each other,” Johnson warned Trump.

Recalling the gay activist group Act Up in the 1980s during President Ronald Reagan’s term in office, he said, “Silence equals death — and we will not be silent!”


Gotham Gazette: Fighting Back in the Trump Era

January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

corey johnson rally via city council
Photo by William Alatriste/City Council)

January 20 marked the beginning of a dangerous new era for our country. For the first time in many of our lives, we now have a president who rose to office on the power of racist, sexist, classist, and xenophobic campaign promises. These are promises he is already working to keep.

Of course, Donald Trump’s agenda does not truly represent our nation. The day after his inauguration, millions of people marched in cities around the world to reject Trump’s divisive ideology.

The Women’s Marches on Saturday sent a clear message about where we stand as a people. But speaking truth to power is only the start. We must now organize our communities and engage with our democracy in unprecedented ways. The fates of our economy, our health care system, our environment, our national security, and our most vulnerable populations depend on it.

We can start by creating change right here at home in New York.

As Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently put it, “When they go low, we go local.” Indeed, there’s an enormous opportunity to create change at the local level and ensure that our City and our State remain on a progressive course.

We have made great strides here in New York, from a rising minimum wage to a strong health care marketplace, and we will have to fight hard not to be taken backwards in the Trump era.

That is why I call on all New Yorkers to get engaged, get involved, and make sure that when local elections take place in 2017 and 2018, we choose representatives who are committed to executing your vision for our City and state. The New York State Senate, for example, is still controlled by Republicans, despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one. This should not be.

Nationally, 2018 will present us with an opportunity to elect federal representatives who can stand up to Trump in the halls of Congress. New Yorkers need not look very far for seats we can flip – a third of New York’s 27 members of Congress are Republicans!

It will take nothing short of an all-out blitz to turn many of these seats from red to blue, and we need to start organizing now. As the Women’s Marches showed, there is nothing like action. It is time for everyone who cares to be engaged.

While we act locally, we must demand that our representatives in Washington, D.C. cede no ground to Trump and his extreme agenda. As New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler says, we must not normalize his extreme views on issues like immigration, religious freedom, women’s rights, and climate change. Keep the heat on your federal representatives to ensure that they do not buckle in the face of pressure. Anyone who compromises on our essential values should not be re-elected.

Let your federal representatives know how you feel. As an elected official, I can tell you that these calls really do matter.

So step up and be heard. Take your rightful place at the forefront of our democracy. The election may be over, but it’s never too late for passionate and dedicated individuals to put our country back on the right path.

Corey Johnson represents District 3 in the New York City Council, which covers the neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village, and parts of Flatiron, SoHo and the Upper West Side.‎ On Twitter @CoreyinNYC.


New York 1: As Donald Trump is Sworn In, Some NYC Democrats Treat Friday Like Just Another Day at Work

January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017

In the days leading up to the election, most New York Democrats were predicting a big win for Hillary Clinton. On Friday, the cold reality set in.

Jamie Rubin is a cabinet member of Governor Andrew Cuomo. On Friday, he traveled to a community center in Brooklyn to present highlights of the governor’s budget, which he did at exactly the same time Donald Trump was giving his inaugural address.

“I think it’s hard to say Democrats aren’t disappointed,” Rubin said. “But I think most people, like the governor, are very pragmatic. We have a lot of work that needs to get done at the state level, and that’s true whether there is a Republican in the White House or a Democrat as there has been for the last eight years. We are keeping our heads down and doing our work.”

For newly elected Assembly Democrat Yuh-Line Niou, it was a different kind of day. After a late lunch with Jessica Lappin of the Downtown Alliance, she headed back to her Lower Manhattan office to prepare for Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington. She didn’t watch the inauguaration either.

“I haven’t looked at the TV or my Twitter. And so one of the things I’ve been trying to focus on is that my constituents are taken care of and that they have access to me,” she said.

For City Council member Corey Johnson, it was just another day at the office, albeit a depressing one.

“Well, today is mourning in America. With a ‘U,’ with an ‘OU,'” Johnson said. “Today is a difficult day for Democrats, progressives, liberals, New Yorkers. And we need to continue to work, organize, fight and resist.”

Many Democrats say a variation of the same thing, that they are just now gearing up to fight the Trump administration. But given that Trump hasn’t been president very long, it’s tough to say what exactly that fight will be. Trump said a lot during the campaign and a lot after he got elected, and not all of it was consistent.


Amsterdam News: Fast food workers, council members and advocates denounce Puzder

January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017
Leading up to the Senate confirmation hearings for potential Labor Secretary Andy Puzder, fast-food workers, New York City Council members and allies denounced his position and history of anti-labor behavior.

Organizers rallied Thursday pledging to support working-class New Yorkers during Donald Trump’s presidency. City Council members pledged to pass a package of bills to protect fast-food workers, making sure they have job protection.

Attendees at the rally included members of 32BJ, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Make the Road and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“Andy Puzder’s nomination to labor secretary could have a chilling effect on labor organizing and seriously set back the progress we have made in raising wages across the country,” said Mark-Viverito in a statement. “An attack on working Americans is an attack on all of us. It flies in the face of what our nation stands for. As a former organizer with 1199 SEIU, I have seen firsthand the power of workers coming together and organizing for their rights.”

“New Yorkers are united in standing up for justice, for workers’ rights and to make our city and our country a better place for all,” added 32BJ President Hector Figueroa in a statement. “We need to make sure that working families can survive in our city and I applaud the City Council for standing up for fast-food workers. This is more important than ever as we see the president-elect has nominated a billionaire fast-food CEO, whose company has a history of wage theft and harassment, as labor secretary.”

Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., which is the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. Labor advocates note that he also opposes overtime pay and an increased minimum wage.

Anti-Puzder sentiment wasn’t reserved just by New Yorkers. Protests against Puzder were held around the country as well. Cooks and cashiers from Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s took to U.S. Labor Department branches in two-dozen cities with signs reading, “Andy Puzder: CEO of the rigged economy.” Since 2009, 60 percent of Department of Labor investigations since Barack Obama’s first year in office found CKE restaurants and franchises to have violated wage and hour laws. Since 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found 98 safety violations at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s locations, concluding that 36 of them can cause death or physical harm.

Puzder became CEO of CKE in 2000.

“Andy Puzder represents the worst of the rigged economy Donald Trump pledged to take on as president,” said Terrance Dixon, a Hardee’s employee from St. Louis, in a statement. “If Puzder is confirmed as labor secretary, it will mean the Trump years will be about low pay, wage theft, sexual harassment and racial discrimination instead of making lives better for working Americans like me.”

Back in New York, City Council members believe that all citizens need to heed the warning of Trump’s appointments, especially Puzder.

“Trump’s nomination of Puzder should send to cities a clear signal,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “With no hope for leadership at the federal level, now is the time for local legislators to take the lead on protecting, expanding and enforcing workers’ rights. NYC’s Fair Work Week package will establish a reasonable set of rights for low-wage workers that face an uphill battle each day to make ends meet and provide a stable life for their families.”

“Andy Puzder is a man who has padded his pockets through wage theft and criticized policies of basic decency like overtime pay and paid sick leave,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “We cannot allow Puzder and the Trump administration to roll back these important victories for the American workforce.”


NY Times: Injecting Drugs, Under a Watchful Eye

January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017

It has been nearly 30 years since the first needle exchange program opened in the United States, in Takoma, Wash., in 1988. It was a health measure to prevent injecting drug users from sharing needles, and therefore spreading H.I.V. and hepatitis.

The idea was controversial, to say the least. Many people felt — and still feel — that it enables drug use and sends a message that drug use is O.K. and can be done safely.

Today the evidence is overwhelming that needle exchange prevents disease, increases use of drug treatment by winning users’ trust and bringing them into the health system, and does not increase drug use. Its utility has won over some critics. When Vice President-elect Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he authorized needle exchange programs as an emergency response to an H.I.V. outbreak. “I do not support needle exchange as antidrug policy, but this is a public health emergency,” he said at a news conference in 2015.

Needle exchange saved New York City from a generalized H.I.V. epidemic. In 1990, more than half of injecting drug users had H.I.V. Then in 1992, needle exchange began — and by 2001, H.I.V. prevalence had fallen to 13 percent.

America has another epidemic now: overdose deaths from opioids, heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid so powerful that a few grains can kill. A thousand people died of overdose in the city last year — three times the number who were killed in homicides. Nationally, drug overdose has passed firearms and car accidents as the leading cause of injury deaths.

If there is a way to save people from overdose death without creating harm, we should do it. Yet there is a potent weapon that we’re ignoring: the supervised injection room. According to a report by the London-based group Harm Reduction International, 90 supervised injection sites exist around the world: in Canada, Australia and eight countries in Europe. Scotland and Ireland plan to open sites this year. In the United States, state officials in New York, California and Maryland, and city officials in Seattle (where a task force recommended two sites), San Francisco, New York City, Ithaca, N.Y., and elsewhere, are discussing such facilities.

Do you think needle exchange sends the wrong message? Boy, are you going to love this.

A supervised injection facility is a walk-in center where drug users can get clean equipment and use (their own) drugs under the watchful eye of staff armed with naloxone, the antidote that instantly reverses overdose. Some facilities are open to people who inhale drugs as well.

These facilities, like all harm reduction measures, are always part of a larger antidrug strategy. The response to America’s opioid crisis requires legal crackdowns on the supply chain, especially fentanyl shipped from China; intensive prevention measures; and no-waiting, locally available long-term treatment, especially the most effective treatment, which uses Suboxone or methadone.

The government response lags far behind the problem; only a tiny percentage of people who need treatment have been able to get it so far.

Supervised injection sites save lives. There has yet to be a single overdose death in a site anywhere in the world, said Rick Lines, executive director of Harm Reduction International. A recent survey of scientific studies found that the sites — which serve the most hard-core, marginalized users — do many things. They get people into health care. They do not increase drug injecting. They don’t increase trafficking or crime in the surrounding neighborhoods — their neighborhoods, in fact, saw less public injecting and fewer dropped syringes. And by averting H.I.V. and Hep C infections and reducing ambulance use and hospitalizations, they save money.

Like all harm reform measures, this idea assumes that people who are addicted to injecting drugs will do so somewhere. It’s better for them — and for everyone — if that place is not an alley, playground or Burger King bathroom. They should not be alone. You can’t enter treatment if you’re dead.

The only sites in North America are in Vancouver. But Canada is seeing record overdose deaths and the spread of fentanyl, so Ontario’s government just announced it would fund three sites in Toronto and one in Ottawa. Montreal plans to open some, too. “There is no higher priority in the health ministry,” said Adam Vaughan, a member of Parliament from Toronto, The Globe and Mail reported.

The largest and oldest Vancouver clinic is Insite, established in 2003 in the city’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood, where drug use is concentrated. Most of its funding comes from the province government.

“Insite is for long term, serious IV drug users,” said a spokeswoman, Anna Marie D’Angelo. Peer counselors, doctors and nurses screen out novices or minors, she said. Clients average around 30 years old, and some clients are in their 70s and have been shooting heroin for decades.

Clients pick up clean injecting equipment and go to one of 13 clean, well-lit carrels — mirrored, so staff can watch. After they inject, they can go to a chill room to talk with peer counselors and nurses. These conversations build trust between clients and a determinedly nonjudgmental staff. The “no lecture” part of harm reduction bothers a lot of people, but clients must trust staff if they are to accept help.

Insite says that the vast majority of referrals it makes are to treatment or detox — many to Onsite, the detox center right upstairs. Researchers found that Insite was associated (pdf) with a 30 percent increase in use of detox services, which in turn increased the use of long-term treatment and decreased injecting drug use.

Randy Fincham, a staff sergeant at the Vancouver Police Department, said that Insite was not an easy sell with police. “It’s hard for police officers to look the other way if someone’s going to consume,” he said. But Insite’s record was convincing, he said — clients have overdosed about 5,000 times and were revived in every single case. “It’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s a Band-aid for opioid consumption until other solutions are introduced. It’s taken a few years, but now our members are fully supportive — because of the need.”

To measure Insite’s impact on overdose deaths, researchers tallied deaths in Insite’s neighborhood in the two years before it opened and then in its first two years of operation, and compared them to deaths elsewhere in the city. Within roughly a third of a mile of Insite, overdose deaths dropped by 35 percent. In the rest of Vancouver, deaths dropped by 9.3 percent.

Researchers also found no increase in crime, and a decrease in public injecting and discarded needles. It has made the neighborhood better, not worse. The same is true in Sydney. Australian researchers found that three-quarters of residents and businesses in the area around Sydney’s facility support it (pdf). “SIFs cannot be expected to solve all of the drug-related problems within a particular area, but can contribute to their reduction or minimization,” said Australia’s Salvation Army — an organization normally focused on abstinence.

A caution: Small is not beautiful. Insite’s 13 carrels are not enough — each day starts off with a line around the block. This is bad for the neighborhood, and counterproductive for drug users. It’s very hard to stand in line for an hour with a bag of heroin in your pocket.

And to make a difference, sites must be near the clients. Vancouver is unusual in the concentration of its drug injecting in one neighborhood — which is also why there are lines. This is a challenge for other cities where drug use is more disperse, and especially problematic in rural areas; people won’t travel to go inject safely.

In New York, Linda Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the State Assembly, is preparing to introduce legislation laying the legal groundwork that would allow cities to establish the sites. She believes the facilities should go into buildings that already serve injecting drug users with services such as needle exchange, detox, counseling and connections to social programs.

The New York City Council is funding a $100,000 study by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that will look at the feasibility and possible impact of sites in New York City. The money came out of an already budgeted sum designated for H.I.V.-prevention, so the council has not yet debated the issue.

It’s a first step — given the politics, possibly the only step. The idea came from City Councilman Corey Johnson, who heads the health committee. He thinks that if the scientific evidence doesn’t convince council members, the financial argument might help. “We can centralize a point of outreach to heroin addicts that actually does save significant money and resources in our fight against multiple epidemics,” he said.

“I’m not sure we’ve been able yet to have the larger, substantive conversation that would hopefully educate people,” he said. “At first glance, it’s ‘why are we going to set up facilities to allow people to inject really lethal drugs?’ It’s hard to comprehend why a government would do that.”


Chelsea Now: On MLK Day, Remembering Penn South’s Bayard Rustin

January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

On January 16, Martin Luther King Day, we honor the legacy of the man who changed history and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. But as many Chelsea residents know — although many may not — Chelsea was home to another towering figure in the civil rights movement and a key aide to Dr. King: Bayard Rustin.

Mr. Rustin, who moved into the Penn South complex in 1962 and lived there until his passing in 1987, was among the earliest and most active leaders of the 20th century’s civil rights movement. He helped mastermind some of the most iconic actions in American history, including the 1963 March on Washington, of which he was Chief Organizer.

Rustin exemplified the term “intersectionality” long before it became common vernacular in the language of social justice. When he said, “No group is ultimately safe from prejudice, bigotry, and harassment so long as any group is subject to special negative treatment,” he gave voice to a movement that sees everyone as equal.

Indeed, Rustin’s advocacy spanned over five decades and helped protect vulnerable people of so many different communities.

In fighting for the rights of African Americans, he stood alongside Dr. King and served as a mentor to the young activists who created groundbreaking organizations like Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

He bridged the gap between the Civil Rights Movement and the labor movement as a leader of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. Through his work with Project South Africa, he mobilized American support for a peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa, and he helped refugees in countries from Haiti to Vietnam as a missionary until the day he died.

All of this he accomplished as an openly gay man in a fiercely homophobic era. Arrested for “homosexual activity” in 1953 and shunned by some in the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin arguably would have received even greater recognition if not for the prejudices of the time. Regardless, Rustin soldiered on and fought tirelessly for the causes of freedom and equality.

Later in his career, Rustin was at the front lines fighting for LGBT rights. Here in New York, he advocated forcefully for the passage of legislation that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The law passed in 1986 after 15 years of fierce debate.

Bayard Rustin taught us not only to care about the members of our community, but to care about all people, regardless of any of the superficial barriers that may seem to separate us.

This past March, in recognition of his many extraordinary contributions to our city, our country, and our world, the US National Park Service added his residence in Building 7 of the Penn South Complex in Chelsea, where his longtime partner Walter Naegle still lives today, to its National Register of Historic Places.

As I look at the current political landscape in our country, I cannot help but think that we need more people like Bayard Rustin. This Martin Luther King Day, I will commit myself to following more closely in his footsteps, and I encourage all to do the same.


Denouncing Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary

January 12, 2017

In the run up to the Senate confirmation hearing of fast-food mogul Andy Puzder as U.S. Secretary of Labor, today I joined New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, many of my colleagues on the Council, 32BJ SEIU and fast food workers who are part of the Fight for $15 in a protest at the U.S. Department of Labor office in Manhattan. New York City Council members are pledging support for working New Yorkers over the next four years and supporting a package of bills that will protect fast-food workers in New York City, ensuring they have adequate job protections that will provide much-needed stability for themselves and their families.

Posted by Corey Johnson on Thursday, January 12, 2017


The Body: Ending the Epidemic: What Will It Take?

January 5, 2017

January 5, 2017

During a routine physical exam 12 years ago, I received news that changed my life forever: I was HIV positive. I was young, scared, and unsure of what my options were and what my future would hold.

Only in my early 20s at the time, I was forced to navigate our complicated health care system both at times when I had insurance and when I was uninsured. Like so many New Yorkers, I had to manage my health care proactively while working full time and trying to keep up with our city’s rising cost of living.

The road has not been easy, but I am extremely fortunate that, because of extraordinary medical breakthroughs, an HIV diagnosis is no longer considered the death sentence that it once was. Today, with proper treatment, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives. New prevention options like PrEP promise to reduce the number of new infections dramatically. And as the search for a cure continues, research advances are bringing us tantalizingly close to a breakthrough.

New York State will end the epidemic here by the end of 2020, but we’ve got a long way to go before we do.Medical advancements need to be matched with progressive, compassionate housing and health care policies that ensure that all low-income HIV-positive New Yorkers are in a position to manage their care.

The bottom line is this: Housing is health care.

I can safely say that if I did not have stable housing while seeking treatment, particularly in the earliest days of my diagnosis, I would not be where I am today.

When HIV-positive people have adequate housing, we see that they end up with increased rates of viral suppression and reduced mortality rates. Importantly, their communities see lower HIV infection rates as well.

On the other side of that coin, we have seen that homelessness has a direct and staggering impact on people’s health. A large body of research demonstrates that homelessness and unstable housing are strongly associated with a greater risk of HIV, inadequate HIV health care, poor health outcomes, and early death.

At the City Council, I’m proud to have sponsored “HASA for All” legislation that would expand lifesaving benefits to all low-income New Yorkers with HIV. HASA (the HIV/AIDS Services Administration) is a program that currently provides critical shelter, food, and transportation assistance to people in the direst health circumstances — those who have an AIDS diagnosis, a CD4 count of 200 or less, or two opportunistic infections.

Certainly these individuals need this assistance, but when we wait for people to become sicker before we lend a helping hand, we do them, and ourselves, a great disservice.

Currently, thousands upon thousands of people with HIV — including the 800 or more who reside in NYC shelters on any given night — remain medically ineligible for the publicly funded HIV-specific non-shelter housing assistance, case management, and transportation allowances that HASA provides for people with symptomatic HIV. Homeless people with asymptomatic HIV are often forced into the Hobson’s choice of initiating treatment and remaining homeless or delaying treatment until they qualify for rental assistance or supportive housing.

It’s time to reach these people while we have a chance to change the course of their illness. It’s time to usher in HASA for All. I look forward to working with my fellow elected officials and so many incredible advocates to make this goal a reality. Indeed, I’ve been greatly encouraged by my colleagues in the City Council, who have joined in the effort to end the epidemic in a number of crucial ways.

Together we’re working to channel modern scientific breakthroughs in ways that have a profound impact on HIV-positive New Yorkers. Last year, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and I announced a new $6.6 million City Council initiative that will fund new prevention and support services, as well as the largest PrEP and PEP access program in the nation.

This funding will allow us to make sure our health care professionals are fully trained on these treatments so they can offer their clients the most effective care possible. It will support education and training for those who work with high-risk clients, and it will support expanded PrEP and PEP access for young people of color. This initiative will help us reach out to those who exhibit the highest risk for HIV, and it will allow us to get them the education, testing, and medical assistance they need to stay HIV-free.

Governor Cuomo has provided game-changing leadership on this front as well. With his announcement last year that he will seek an additional $200 million for supportive housing and health care programs for people with HIV, he is solidifying New York State’s place as a national leader on this issue.

Similarly, Mayor de Blasio’s commitment of $23 million toward new prevention and health care programs will have a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of New Yorkers. Every dollar of this funding will bring us closer to reaching our goal of ending the epidemic.

We’re on track to prevail against HIV, but we cannot let up. We need to continue with unabated determination, using every tool at our disposal. If we stay focused and keep fighting, I have no doubt whatsoever that we can and will end the epidemic once and for all.


NY Daily News Opinion: The brutal reality of retail schedules

January 4, 2017

February 4, 2017

I was getting ready to take a family member to the doctor’s when I got a call from my job at David’s Tea. They needed me to come in for an on-call shift, and I had just three hours to get there. When I told my manager about the doctor’s appointment, they said no one else was available. I felt pressured to go in.

This wasn’t the only time I had to respond to last-minute call-ins: My whole schedule at David’s Tea was set up so I would be desperate for hours every week. I took the job to pay for my first semester of college, but I was given only 51/2 hours a week on my schedule. I also planned to use my off days to get my food handler’s license to pick up another job, except the store often called me in when I needed to study. Soon I learned they expected me to pick up hours whenever they needed me.

I never even got a day’s notice about a schedule change; usually, it was just two or three hours. I always had to rush to get ready and make the hour commute.

There was no real reason for this. The store prepared our schedules two weeks in advance and knew when we were available. Yet, it seemed that our availability played no role in their assignments. And rather than adjust schedules ahead of time, the store preferred people to call at the last minute and say they couldn’t come to work and have those of us eager for more hours called in. Turning down a shift was not an option; it often led to having your hours cut.

This is the result of the practice of on-call scheduling, which is terribly unfair to workers who want to work as much as possible, but need stability — and less stress — in their lives. By definition, on-call scheduling requires workers to be available to work and to either contact the employer or wait to be contacted to determine whether they must report to work. It also includes when workers are told at the last minute they have to extend their shift and work extra hours.

There is no additional pay to retail workers for being on-call, nor are they compensated for the time they take to check with the employer.

Studies have found that the uncertainty of on-call scheduling causes stress, not to mention financial insecurity. On-call procedures make it difficult for workers to schedule their lives, from attending school or taking another part-time job to making medical appointments — or, if you have kids, arranging for child care.

A 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute also showed that it is the lowest-income workers who face the most irregular schedules. And retail is one of the industries where it is used most prevalently.

The practice also hurts businesses in the long run because of high turnover and low morale.

There is a bill in the City Council, sponsored by Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), that would essentially eliminate on-call scheduling. It would require employers to give workers at least 72 hours notice of any schedule change.

This bill is simply good common sense, yet some critics have said the city is unfairly rushing into passing legislation that would regulate scheduling in the retail and fast-food industry. I disagree. It’s about time we had such legislation.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sent letters to retail businesses, including David’s Tea, about their on-call practices. Schneiderman’s efforts have led to a dozen retailers agreeing to stop using on-call altogether. We need the rest of the retail industry to agree to that, too. Unfortunately, expecting businesses to volunteer to do this is dangerously wishful thinking.

That’s why the Council must pass this bill banning on-call scheduling. We need our elected officials to protect workers from the practices of abusive employers who use any means to make a profit. It’s time for the Council and the mayor to follow the lead of other progressive cities and enact a fair scheduling law without further delay.

Vargas has worked in retail for the past two years, including a stint at David’s Tea in 2016. She is a member of the Retail Action Project in the city.