Queens Lawmakers on the Move Feb. 17, 2021

Queens County City Council News

Electeds Call for Reinstatement of Fired Queens Defenders 

Jessica González-Rojas
Assemblymember Ron Kim/Facebook
Zohran Mamdani

State Assemblymembers Jessica González-Rojas (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside), Ron Kim (D- Flushing, East Flushing, Willets Point, Linden Hill and Murray Hill), Zohran Mamdani (D-Astoria), and Pheffer Amato (D-Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Ozone Park and the Rockaway Peninsula), and City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Dutch Kills) are joining UAW Local 2325, Queens Defenders Staff, and other allies on Wednesday in a virtual press conference to call on the Queens Defenders to reinstate two employees terminated last week for organizing. 

Colleagues learned of the summary firings last week by Queens Defenders, a local public defender agency, in what appears to be retaliation for their outspoken union support. The lawmakers are calling for the immediate reinstatement of these two workers and the end of any and all retaliation intended to intimidate employees against organizing and forming a union. Queens Defenders’ Executive Director, Lori Zeno, terminated both employees in the midst of a union-drive at the organization; at a time when employees were expected to be receiving and returning union-election ballots to the National Labor Relations Board.

Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato
City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer/Facebook

On December 16, the staff attorneys and social workers of Queens Defenders announced their intent to unionize with the Association of Legal Aid Attorney, under UAW Local 2325. About ninety percent of eligible staff members signed cards in support of unionization. Zeno and Queens Defenders management refused to voluntarily recognize the union, instead forcing an election and resorting to what the group said was increasingly brazen intimidation tactics in an effort to dissuade would-be union members.

The virtual press conference will be held via Zoom and Facebook Live on Wednesday, February 17, at 11 a.m. To receive a link, email [email protected] 

Vallone Holds Hearing on Economic Development

City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Councilmember Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, and the rest of the committee are holding a virtual hearing on Wednesday. 

The hearing will cover multiple items including reducing noise caused by chartered helicopters, requiring the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to conduct a study on the safety and feasibility of using electric powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles in the city fleet, and requiring the New York City Economic Development Corporation to collect certain safety and route information regarding helicopters operating on property owned by the city. 

For more information on the considered legislation, see the agenda.

The remote hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 17 at 10 a.m. in Virtual Room 3.

Meng Introduces Marshall Plan for Moms

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced on Tuesday that she introduced the Marshall Plan for Moms (H.Res.121), a bold and sweeping piece of legislation seeking to revitalize and restore mothers in the workforce. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, moms, especially moms of color, have been forced to leave the workforce in droves in order to meet the unprecedented demands of caregiving, remote schooling, and housework during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Marshall Plan for Moms recognizes these challenges, and puts forward a framework of numerous provisions that aim to help moms return to the workforce so that they can resume and advance their careers, and stop losing out on wages that are critical to their family’s economic security.

“Moms throughout America are screaming out for help,” said Meng. “Moms – especially, moms of color – have been pushed to the brink of economic, social, and emotional collapse due to this pandemic. Moms were always fighting an uphill battle against gender norms and racial and gender pay equity – and like so many other issues, the pandemic has only exacerbated existing injustices and inequalities. The unprecedented burdens of child care, work, remote learning – on top of the social isolation – have strained the mental and emotional health of mothers. As a mom of two young boys, this issue is especially personal to me. Moms everywhere are saying: something has to give, before something ultimately breaks. The Marshall Plan for Moms calls for transformational structural change. It is a blueprint to make sure moms have a fighting chance, and that they are protected against any future economic calamities. It is time that we recognize the struggles and sacrifices that mothers have made and do all we can to rebuild their presence in the labor force so that they can provide for their families, and climb the ranks that lead to shattering more glass ceilings.”

The Marshall Plan for Moms calls for robust paid leave; saving our child care industry with a vision toward universal child care and early learning; investing in our education system, including broadband connections; strengthening child poverty tools such as a child tax credit and earned income tax credit; expanding unemployment insurance benefits; strong Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour; and mental health support for moms.

Meng’s Marshall Plan for Moms is named after the Marshall Plan that provided assistance to Europe after World War II.

The measure can be viewed here.

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