March 27, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Who’s the best friend working men and women have in the New York City Council? According to a newly-released report card compiled by the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, that distinction goes to Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez [D-District 10] of Manhattan.
Councilman Rodriguez’s 90 percent rating earned him an A+ grade on workers’ rights in the sixth annual New York City Council Human Report Rights Card. Points were awarded based on the sponsorship of select bills over the last year, as well as votes cast.
Based on that criteria, grades of A+ in workers’ rights were also awarded to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito [D-District 8] and Councilman Jumaane Williams [D-District 45]. Top grades also went to three others no longer serving in the City Council – Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and former Councilman Charles Barron [D-District 42].
Overall, members of the New York City Council scored an average of 56 percent on workers’ rights, earning them a collective grade of B.
“We are encouraged by the work that council members do in workers’ rights legislation,” Research and Policy Coordinator Nicole Bramstedt told LaborPress. “We hope that they review the report card and continue to work to defend and protect workers rights in New York City.
Councilman Rodriquez, who has held office since 2009 and chairs the Committee on Transportation, has recently been working with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in cracking down on wage theft. The Dominican-born legislator also supports increasing the minimum wage and 32BJ SEIU’s ongoing efforts on behalf of long-suffering airport workers.
"While I am proud to be recognized for this honor, there is much more work to be done on behalf of countless New Yorkers in need of assistance,” Councilman Rodriguez said in a statement. “We at the Council must continue to fight discrimination at every turn and ensure our city is an welcoming place for all who chose to reside here."
Councilman Vincent Ignizio [R-51 District], meanwhile, finds himself on the opposite end of the spectrum in the 6th annual New York City Council Human Rights Report Card. The Staten Island legislator scored a paltry 16.3 percent on workers’ rights for a dismal grade of C-.
The councilman’s office was dismissive of the Human Rights Report Card when contacted, and refused to comment on the legislator's poor showing.
Councilman Ignizio, isn’t alone at the bottom, however. Former City Council members Peter Vallone, Jr. [R-District 22], and Dan Halloran [R-District 19], as well as Staten Island Borough President James Oddo, all scored 17.3 percent as well, earning each of them a C- grade on workers’ rights.
Despite how poorly any individual City Council member may have fared this time out, Bramstedt remains upbeat about the legislative body as a whole.
“I think that we’re fortunate in New York City to have a group of council members who care about the work that they do, and who care about New Yorkers,” Bramstedt said.
The Urban Justice Center has roots advocaing for poor and disadvantaged New Yorkers dating back 30 years when it was initially known as the Legal Action Center for the Homeless.