Photo By: 
Bill De Blasio

De Blasio Wants to Ban At-Will Employment

Bill De Blasio has released a Workers' Bill of Rights that would eliminate Right to Work and strengthen unions

Brian Young's picture
Jul 24, 2019

This week, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has released his labor plan, which is a comprehensive plan for changing the United States labor laws to better favor working people.

Speaking in front of a sparse crowd at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) headquarters in Washington D.C. the Mayor released his “Workers’ Bill of Rights.” The proposal calls for employers to grant a minimum two weeks of paid time off for all workers, a national $15 minimum wage, and stronger protections for employees from termination.

While many candidates have called for a higher minimum wage, adding protections for workers from termination is a unique policy point. According to a Medium blog outlining the proposal, De Blasio wants to replace “at-will” employment with a “just cause” policy.

“A real “right to work” should mean the right to keep your job as long as you do your job. The vast majority of employees in America are “at-will” employees. They can be fired at any time and for almost any reason. In most states workers can still be fired just for being openly gay or lesbian. Workers can be fired if their boss is simply in a bad mood that day. Workers can be fired for their political views or just for the way they dress. And workers can be fired illegally based on racial discrimination or sexual harassment — or for union organizing — and must then pursue costly, stressful, time-consuming litigation without any guarantee of prevailing in court. Bill de Blasio’s “Just Cause” policy would replace “at-will” employment with a just cause system that protects workers from unfair terminations. It would require that employers can only fire workers for failure to properly do their job and only after appropriate warning or due process.”

Other proposals included in his “Bill of Rights” which will create a universal labor standard that protects all including gig workers and freelancers, the right to stability in scheduling, and the right to a voice on the job. De Blasio is promising that if elected, he would institute card check, eliminate all forms of employer interference and intimidation during a union drive, extend union organizing rights to excluded groups like farmworkers, and overturn Janus. He also promises to ban the use of scabs to replace workers during a strike, remove the prohibition on secondary boycotts, implement the Obama administrations joint-employer proposal, as well as abolishing right to work, mandatory arbitration and non-compete clauses.

While these ideas are definitely bold, De Blasio’s record leaves much to be desired. While often saying the right thing, he has come under scrutiny from a number of unions for failing to work with them. He has come under fire from Building Trades unions for teaming up with developers to hand out affordable housing contracts to non-union contractors. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has also been attacking the mayor, running ads in early primary states calling him a “Fauxggressive.” The union has been fighting with the Mayor over a number of issues including a city law that allows bus drivers to be criminally prosecuted for hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk, his plan to get rid of horse carriages in Central Park, and the city’s refusal to contribute more money to the crumbling subway system.

Perhaps the most visible union that has been attacking De Blasio is the NYC PBA. They have followed him on the trail for his failure to reach a new contract with the union. The PBA says that NYPD officers are being paid 30% less than the market rate and say that a checked-out mayor is to blame.

Sign up for our e-Newsletter!