August 9, 2022
Mayor Eric Adams: Always, always. I never thought in my life I’d be regurgitating a song I used to hear as a child — Baby, It Is Hot Out. It is hot outside. And so just give me one moment here. So we are here to just really acknowledge this important decision that was made. And I want to really take my hat off to Commissioner Mayuga and her entire team over at DCWP. And I want to thank 32BJ, Candis Tolliver, Kyle Bragg. And they’re using government correctly — identifying a problem that’s dealing with workers, bringing it to the attention of our commissioners and then acting accordingly to what we discover after a thorough investigation. This is what Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer has stated as we build out our business communities and deal with workers’ rights and workers’ issues. I worked in a restaurant as a child, as a dishwasher. I know how challenging it is. As borough president I fought on behalf of some of the laws that we’re seeing now. Fight for 15 was a battle that I was proud to be part of.
Mayor Adams: And so today we obtained $20 million in relief for our employees. And that’s why the New York City Department of Consumer and Workers Protection took actions against Chipotle Mexican Grill Company on behalf of our city workers, sending the right message as we move forward. Under the New York City Fair Workweek law, fast food employers must, and I say, must provide workers with their schedules in advance or pay workers extras. Our investigation determined that did not happen. Workers must be able to plan in their lives. The days of fast food workers as being merely college students, that is just not a reality. Many are parents. Many are sole providers for their families, and that’s why we fought for the Right for 15. And that’s why we will continue to ensure that they receive the benefits that they deserve.
Mayor Adams: So many New Yorkers have spent time working in restaurants. We know that the restaurants play a vital role in our economy and the employees do just the same. And we want businesses, and I want to be clear on this, we want businesses like Chipotle to open here and thrive here. That’s crucial for us, but they cannot exist without the hard working people who are cooking, serving, and delivering our food. It’s part of that ecosystem that each part of the ecosystem must receive the necessary support and necessary benefits to thrive. And we’re going to ensure that our restaurant workers are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.
Mayor Adams: And again, I cannot say enough about the union, 32BJ, that brought this to our attention. This is a perfect partnership when government, unions that represent workers, and companies understand that we have to coexist. And that is what we are seeing. Today’s settlement is a victory for workers and is a victory for the customers because oftentimes the customers in these establishments are in fact workers. And when you have victories like this, it sends the right message that New York City stands with working people. We are using the power of the law to ensure that we protect everyone under the law. And I want to thank my Chief Counsel Brendan McGuire and his team for working with DCWP — for making this happen. Commissioner, great job. Let’s continue to ensure that workers are protected in this city. I want to turn it over to our commissioner.
Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection: Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for being here today. I am Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga of the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. We are really excited to be here and thank Mr. Mayor for holding this press conference to announce this important win for New Yorkers. New York City is a nationwide leader in protecting the right to stable, predictable work schedule. Under city law, workers in fast food restaurants have the right to leave work at their scheduled time and to receive extra premium pay for schedule changes. They also have the right to pick up more hours before new workers are hired. These rights are important. They are important because working people need scheduling stability and the chance to pick up more hours to pay rent and put food on the table. And New York City’s Fair Workweek law guarantees those rights for fast food workers.
Commissioner Mayuga: But in 2018, we started to receive complaints from workers at Chipotle that they were being denied these rights. So we launched an investigation and in 2021, after discovering violations, we expanded our case to additional locations in the city. Our investigation found that Chipotle did not give employees advance notice of their work schedules, required employees to work extra time without their advanced consent, did not properly compensate workers for schedule changes, did not offer available shifts to current employees before hiring new employees, and did not allow employees to use accrued safe and sick leave.
Commissioner Mayuga: Today, I am happy to announce we have reached a settlement that will put money back in the pockets of these workers, a settlement that is the largest Fair Workweek settlement in the country. We’re very excited. And again, thank you, Mr. Mayor, for leading our city. I’d like to share some words in Spanish now. [Speaks in Spanish.] And now I’d like to also remind that if you want to learn, especially both restaurants that do fast food work and fast food employees, about these specific laws, please, if you have questions or need to file a complaint, visit NYC.gov/workers or call 311. Thank you.
Question: How much does each, or perhaps the commissioner, how much can each worker — can expect to get out of the settlement? And also it is my understanding that the 2021 lawsuit was seeking 150 million in damages. Are you satisfied with the outcome in this case?
Commissioner Mayuga: We’re very satisfied. It is the largest one in the country. We really are leading as the amazing city that we are. This is the fastest way to get relief to the workers, reaching this settlement. The workers can expect $50 for each week or part of a week that they worked between November of 2017 and April of this year, 2022.
Question: And can DCWP keep up with the pace of demands? These violations of Chipotle and other fast food companies have not stopped. And now we have Starbucks also engaging in similar activity. Can DCWP keep up the pace of the demand of these violations?
Commissioner Mayuga: We are actively investigating any complaints that come our way, and we can continue to do our work and comply with that mandate.
Question: Yeah. Is the city confident that Chipotle has stopped these violations and how many workers can be compensated through [inaudible]?
Commissioner Mayuga: We believe approximately 13,000 workers may be eligible for these $20 million. And in terms of relief, again, if there’s any outstanding complaints, we are delighted. We’re really happy and pleased that Chipotle came to the table to resolve this issue, this lawsuit, in the way that they did.
Question: Also separately, I know there’ve been some claims this year in the city — the illegal hirings. I was wondering if you know if the city’s going [inaudible].
Commissioner Mayuga: I’m not sure if this is what you’re referring to, but we’ve received some complaints on paid save and sick leave, I’m sorry, on just cause which is another component of the Fair Workweek law and we’re actively investigating those.
Question: If you could respond to what took place at the hearing this morning on homeless shelters, asylum seekers. Speaker Adams seems to insinuate that there’s some scapegoating going on, that the asylum seekers may not be the main reason that there’s so much stress on our homeless shelter system. Can you respond to that in her ask for more clarity and accountability around how we’re quantifying asylum seekers?
Mayor Adams: No, I’m not quite understanding. What is her question? Her question is…
Question: Her insinuation is that the Adams administration seems to be scapegoating these asylum seekers for the vast majority of issues that are happening in the shelter system. That those asylum seekers are not only to blame for the issues in the shelter system.
Mayor Adams: No, I don’t think that they are to blame. We should not be blaming people who are seeking to leave a place that is harmful to them. And that’s why I was at the Port Authority, greeting the bus, unlike governor of Texas, who did what I believe is anti-American. I did just the opposite and those asylum seekers were happy to hear that the mayor of the City of New York was standing there and stating, “We’re going to treat you with dignity.” And that meant a lot. And that was what we wanted to accomplish. So I’m not quite sure of what the speaker’s saying. I’ll reach out to her and I’m going to ask her to come with me in some of the homeless shelters that I’m visiting and I will continue to visit with my team. And she can sort of point out what she believed we’re scapegoating.
Mayor Adams: My understanding, she said that the eviction issue is causing some of the homelessness. Only 1% of those who are in shelter are there due to evictions. There are many other issues that are facing. And the number I received this morning was a little over 4,000 of asylum seekers that are now into our shelter system, 4,000. And so I am hoping that the City Council would join us in calling on the federal government to help as well as getting help from the state. I just think it’s unfair that New York City — we are saying we’re going to do our part. We are taking on this awesome responsibility. The federal government and the state should assist in this as well because it’s more than housing. Remember that. Housing, education, food, translation services, healthcare, all of these issues. People are just looking at the beds. No, we’re talking about additional resources for people who are in need.
Question: And I saw that the city is looking to create a migrant-specific facility to temporarily house these individuals. Why go that route and kind of segregate them from the rest of the population?
Mayor Adams: Well, we are continually going to pivot and shift based on the need and analysis. If we determine that we can give people better services a certain way, like we have all men shelters. We have shelters with all our children. We have shelters based on populations in need. And so we are looking at whatever we can do to make this a smooth transition for people who are coming here to seek the assistance that they need. I mean, it’s unimaginable, coming to a country and your first visit here, someone is throwing you out, as the governor of Texas is doing, and then try to navigate this complex country, the delivery of services. And we’re doing a good job in doing that.
Question: I wanted to ask you about the ongoing lawsuit over the education budget.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: I know the city has filed its appeal, but given that we only have a few weeks until the first day of school, I was wondering whether you’d be willing… Have you talked about setting the lawsuit aside and just directly negotiating with those parents and the City Council on the budget?
Mayor Adams: Well, okay, a couple of things. Schools are going to open on time with resources and services. We are not going to disrupt the school year. We need to be really clear on that. They’re going to open on time. These children are going to be ready to learn the same way we did over the summer months where 110,000 students went to school over the summer. So we’re opening on time, and we’re going to continue to provide the education our children need. There are many different voices in this conversation. And so it is going through the process. It’s all part of the process. The judge did his ruling. The city has lawyers. Let them handle that. The chancellor must get that school open. And I must do my job as the mayor of the city. And that’s what I’m going to do. The lawyers are going to deal with the rest of this stuff.
Question: Mr. Mayor, how did the conference call go with the White House yesterday and was President Biden on the call? What did you ask for? What kind of promises were made to the city from the White House?
Mayor Adams: I did have a meeting yesterday with a president, President Clinton. I enjoyed hanging out with him last night. We did not speak with the White House yesterday. I think my team is doing it today or tomorrow, one of the two days. I know it’ll be done before the end of the week.
Question: What do you plan on asking?
Mayor Adams: We just need help. We need help. And we’re going to have some specific items that we’re going to go over with the president, but we want assistance. We believe FEMA should step in.
Question: [Inaudible] very frustrated though because it’s been now about three or four weeks that you’ve been asking for federal resources. Is it frustrating that the Biden administration has not heeded the city’s calls?
Mayor Adams: After you have experienced the New York City press not giving me all the credit I deserve, I don’t get frustrated anymore. It’s all good.
Question: The state says, Governor Hochul specifically said, she’s offering assistance to deal with this situation. What has the state offered? And has it had anything, going back to beds, to do with housing perhaps outside the city for those who are coming in?
Mayor Adams: We updated the congressional delegation yesterday, and we’re going to partner with our state lawmakers to receive assistance from them. And we are not leaving anything on the table when it comes down to housing of those who are in the city and those who are coming to our city and seeking some form of housing. So we are open to good ideas, and we’re not leaving anything off the table in doing so.
Question: Given how you feel about the Texas governor, do you have any intention of getting involved in that race? He is up for election this year and he has a Democratic challenger. Do you plan to campaign for the Democrat or get involved in any way in that?
Mayor Adams: I already called all of my friends in Texas and told them how to cast their vote. And I am deeply contemplating taking a busload of New Yorkers to go to Texas and do some good old-fashioned door knocking. Because for the good of America, we have to get him out of office.
Question: What is the federal delegation telling you? And what are you discussing with them? Are they saying they’re going to be a liaison for you and for the city?
Mayor Adams: They were amazing. Our Intergovernmental Affairs Committee briefed them and they said, basically, “Let’s help. Let us know what you need.” They’re going to use their authority there to help us because this impacts their communities. And our congressional delegation has been amazing. They’ve been amazing during COVID, constantly bringing resources here. And several of the initiatives that we had to fight every time we called on them, they responded at the level of expectation. And they would tell you the relationship we have developed has been an amazing relationship. They have been delivering for our city.
Question: Yeah. From the hearing, I believe [inaudible] situation, I believe Councilman Restler suggested putting a PATH, DHS PATH intake center in Downtown Brooklyn.
Mayor Adams: A PATH?
Question: A PATH intake center in Downtown Brooklyn. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that idea. And then going off of Sally’s question, I was wondering if you plan to make any endorsements in New York.
Mayor Adams: The intake center in Downtown Brooklyn, yeah. We would love that. I need him to help us, number one, to speak with his residents of the importance of putting in place a shelter, intake center, whatever we could do. He needs to be on the ground, speaking with his residents to explain how we all have to share this responsibility. And I already endorsed in the governor’s race. I’m endorsing Kathy Hochul, who has been a real partner.
Question: What about in the primary coming up?
Mayor Adams: In the primaries that’s coming up?
Mayor Adams: Yeah, there’s a couple of endorsements that I’m going to make in the Senate races because it’s important that we have those senators that believe in public safety, intervention, and prevention. And I’m going to endorse in probably one of the congressional races. Haven’t decided yet because we have some good candidates in the congressional race. NJ?
Question: Mayor, you’ve characterized what the governor of Texas is doing as a political stunt, haven’t you? If it is…
Mayor Adams: Yes, it is.
Question: If it is a political stunt, is it working?
Mayor Adams: In which way? In highlighting or in moving people — saying how much he dislikes New York? In which way?
Question: Is he accomplishing his objectives?
Mayor Adams: No, I think he’s irresponsible. I don’t think he’s accomplishing it. I think he… To America, there’s a reason the Statue of Liberty is there. And all of us, we all came from somewhere. And for him to have people who just went through a devastating moment, crossing the border, coming to this land of the free, home of the brave. And then place them on buses, even if they wanted to go to a different location, forced them on a bus and shipped them to New York to a 45 hour drive, few stops, under these inhumane conditions. I don’t think he’s accomplishing anything more than exposing the type of individual that he is. And so there’s nothing successful about treating people with this lack of dignity.
Question: Regarding New York 10-
Mayor Adams: I’m sorry?
Question: Regarding the 10th congressional district.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: If in fact that’s the one where you’re thinking about endorsing, who would you absolutely not want to win that race? And what factors are you considering?
Mayor Adams: Well, I could work with everyone. So whoever wins, you have to adjust and find a way to work with people. And I’m just at this place where we need to start leaning into places we agree and not places we disagree. Because even the person that’s diametrically opposed to things that I do… If you were to put a list together, eight out of those 10 things, we’re going to agree on. And we shouldn’t be focusing all of our attention on the two things that we disagree on. We all believe in housing. We all believe in public safety. We all believe in giving young people opportunities, good education. We agree on all of these things. And so whomever wins, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to call them, I’m going to say congratulations and welcome to a city that’s dealing with monkeypox, COVID, crime, economy, education, housing. Welcome to the job. And there’s a lot to go around and I want those partnerships with them. Thank you very much.