Reason Roundup

'Secure Jobs Act' Would Cost New Yorkers Secure Jobs

Plus: Destigmatizing sex work, free markets and grocery store mergers, and more...


The Secure Jobs Act, from New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán (D–Queens), is aimed at protecting workers "against unfair and arbitrary firings," according to Cabán. But the act's mandates would likely make work much more precarious for many New Yorkers.

Under the Secure Jobs Act, New York City employers would have to provide "a good reason" before firing any employee. "The onus is on the employer to prove they have a good reason to fire an employee," tweeted Cabán. That means proving employee misconduct or poor performance or, if workers are let go for financial reasons, proving "economic hardship."

This would upend New York City's current system of "at-will" employment, under which an employee can be let go for any reason—or no reason—so long as it doesn't violate the handful of causes banned under anti-discrimination law. At-will employment is not just a good thing for employers but also for workers, since it keeps the cost involved in taking on new employees relatively low.

If an employer knows he can easily fire someone who doesn't work out, he'll be more likely to take risks on workers who may not have the most past experience or don't have a lot of references or maybe have some sort of red flag on their resume. That means more people, and a wider range of people, get a shot to prove themselves in the workplace.

At-will employment also means more willingness to hire people for full staff positions, since doing so doesn't mean you're either stuck with someone who performs poorly or facing a complicated and time-consuming process to get rid of them.

In the European Union, where it's much harder to fire people, workers face a "treadmill of temporary work" contracts, as The New York Times put it in 2017. "Under European labor laws, permanent workers are usually more difficult to lay off and require more costly benefit packages, making temporary contracts appealing for all manner of industries, from low-wage warehouse workers to professional white-collar jobs," the Times reported. "For those stuck in this employment netherworld, life is a cycle of constant job searches."

The situation in Europe has been particularly bad for younger workers. A 2014 study from the European Monitoring Centre on Change found that for workers aged 24 and under, 42 percent were on temporary contracts.

The situation in the E.U. has gotten so bad that "European leaders have in recent times urged governments…to make their workforces more flexible," as the Associated Press reported in 2018. "That meant making it cheaper and easier to hire and fire employees."

This is all to say: We've seen countries try to do what Cabán wants to do in New York City. And it backfired.

Doing away with the at-will work regime in New York City would likely see the same thing happen there as happened in the European Union. It could also drive companies that don't need to be based in the city to places outside city limits, where there's less risk in taking on new employees.

In effect, then, the Secure Jobs Act could drive jobs out of New York City and make employment much more precarious for a huge range of workers.

You can find more details on the Secure Jobs Act from Bloomberg.

Bloomberg notes that, in 2021, New York City passed legislation similar to the Secure Jobs Act but for fast food workers only. In February, a federal court upheld the law, after it was challenged by the New York State Restaurant Association.


Good news: The National Defense Authorization Act will not include the dreadful Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. It's also missing a slew of other measures that lawmakers were reportedly considering attaching to it:


Kaytlin Bailey, founder of Old Pros, talks to Reason's Nick Gillespie about sex work:


"What's to stop them?" How about the free market?

Long gone are the days when a traditional supermarket was the only place to buy food. Bodegas, dollar stores, farmers markets, entities like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and Aldi, online options like Amazon, everything-stores like Target and Walmart and Meijer, bulk-goods stores like Costco…the list of options goes on and on and on. Raising prices artificially high would simply lose business for stores owned by Kroger/Albertsons. And on the off chance that they tried this in an area with few options, it would just present an opportunity for a new local store to open up or a new chain to move in on the territory.

That's the beauty of free markets—they provide choices and competition, so we needn't rely on corporate altruism—or government force—to keep costs reasonable.


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New York Times workers are planning a walkout.