CPC Response to the New York City Council's COVID-19 Relief Plan
CPC applauds Speaker Johnson and the City Council for their $12 billion relief plan to sustain the workers, businesses, and residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As New Yorkers continue to demonstrate their commitment to stopping the spread, CPC is grateful that the City Council acknowledges the impact that closures, curfews, and social distancing has had on local businesses and workers alike. This proposed plan will provide immediate relief to Asian Americans and other communities of color, immigrants, and low-income New Yorkers, addressing the link between economic security and public health.
Providing immediate cash relief and enhanced benefits for workers, as well as cost deferrals for businesses is a commendable first stride in bringing New York back into recovery. CPC is pleased that the plan builds on prior successful recovery models, like the bond program, that allows deep, long-term investment in our communities. Further, CPC applauds the City Council for recognizing that large corporations, while still impacted by these changes, are often the first in line to receive federal stimulus and are in a stronger position to support the rest of the city in its recovery.
As the plan moves forward, CPC raises the following recommendations to ensure that this bold, progressive, and unprecedented plan reaches every New Yorker who needs relief.
- Amend the NYC Paid Sick Leave law period and adjust wage coverage for non-profit workers. Extend the NYC Paid Leave period from the current five days to fourteen, and ensure that non-profit organizations, many of whom still provide mandated essential services like home care and meal delivery, receive contract adjustments for wage coverage when employees need leave.
- Prioritize the relief for Asian American led and serving businesses, particularly as the rhetoric from our President and national leaders continues to falsely link the COVID-19 pandemic to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These businesses had already been economically devastated by misplaced and racially motivated consumer fears leading up to the shutdown.
- Cancel business costs for the full duration of the mandated closure period rather than defer to later dates. Businesses and workers alike will need a period of recovery once the city reopens, and these costs must be abated if we expect businesses to thrive. As we move into a recovery phase, economic stimulus packages for businesses will be critical to recovery.
- Additional consideration for workers in “cash” and gig economies. Expanding eligibility for unemployment to freelancers, gig workers, and those who have had their hours reduced is a hugely important step towards replacing wages for those who have lost jobs. In order to make sure this program supports all workers, we urge the City to 1) extend these unemployment benefits to workers who work “cash gigs” or are undocumented, and 2) establish a floor value for benefits tied to the living wage (to address the issue that many freelancers, service industry and gig workers face of qualifying for a very low benefits payout).
- Ensure that Universal Basic Income (UBI) benefits are exempted from other earned income so that New Yorkers do not become temporarily ineligible for benefits that require certain income thresholds, and that undocumented, unbanked and undomiciled New Yorkers are able to access the UBI benefits.
- Following the lead of Manhattan and Bronx District Attorneys, halt petty summonses and go further to cancel fines and tickets to ensure that no New Yorker is unnecessarily burdened with punitive fines that could further their economic insecurity, or worse, lead toward incarceration or deportation.
CPC thanks Speaker Johnson and the entire City Council for bravely and swiftly stepping up to lead New York City toward recovery. We continue to be in service of our community, and of all New Yorkers as we work towards recovery together.