White Plains, NY — On Monday, Legislators Kitley Covill (D - Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), Catherine Boriga (D - Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill) and David Tubiolo (R- Mount Vernon, Yonkers) introduced new measures that will strengthen a County law that protects janitors, maintenance workers, security personnel and other service workers in commercial buildings who are displaced when contracts change hands.

First passed by a 16-1 vote in 2014, Westchester's Displaced Service Employees Protection Law ensures that building service workers are given a reasonable trial employment period during which they can retain their jobs after a building or a building service contract or contractor changes hands.

The proposed changes to the law will lower the threshold for covered contractors from 15 to 5 employees. It will also extend the period during which workers must be retained from 60 to 90 days, which will align Westchester's law with New York City's.

Leg. Covill said, "The law has worked for the most part to protect workers and give them an avenue for redress when new employers fail to retain them, or fail to give them the information that the law requires. But provisions in the law also have allowed contractors and owners to sidestep the spirit of the law by employing more contractors with fewer employees or splitting up contracts. The changes we're proposing will address that by lowering the threshold for covered contractors from 15 to 5 employees, and by adding other new protections to help Westchester's working families."

Leg. Borgia said, "We spent a long time in 2014, crafting the original law, but laws can be improved, especially when you have five years of history to look back on. The changes we're proposing will protect more workers, give workers better opportunities to hold on to their jobs when contractors change, and create more transparency about the companies that employ them. We need to make sure that Westchester works for working families and instead of allowing companies to engage in a race to the bottom.”

Leg. Tubiolo said, "This is a law that protects the rights and dignity of workers trying to make a living, and makes sure they’re not treated as disposable when contract or contractors change. I'm proud not only to sponsor these amendments with Legislators Covill and Borgia, but I’m also proud that so many our colleagues are joining us in introducing these steps to strengthen worker protections.”

The others sponsors are Board Chair Ben Boykin, Vice Chair Alfreda Williams, Majority Leader Catherine Parker, Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky, and Legislators Nancy Barr, Damon Maher, Terry Clements, Lyndon Williams and Christopher Johnson.

Maher, Chair of the Board’s Labor and Housing Committee, said, “These amendments to the County’s Displaced Worker Law will be part of a legacy of protections for workers that the Board can be proud of this term, including things like the Earned Sick Leave Law, the Safe Leave Law and protections against wage theft.”

Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to President of 32BJ SEIU and union leader in the Hudson Valley, said, “This important fix to the law would stop some employers from trying to evade their responsibility by creating tiny companies that can skirt under the threshold, and it would provide the clarity needed for good faith communication between the employees and employers. We are grateful that a bipartisan group of legislators is tackling this issue.”

Board Chair Ben Boykin (D - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, "I'd like to thank Legislators Covill, Borgia and Tubiolo for bringing these changes forward. And I’d like to thank 32BJ for continuing to advocate for the rights of working people in Westchester County. I'm proud to be able to work together with them to get these changes enacted into law."

The proposed changes will now be taken up by Board's Legislation and Labor and Housing Committees.