Public Advocate Tish James Announces Attorney General Platform to Protect Workers from Exploitative Companies

Will Ramp Up Civil, Criminal Enforcement of Laws

First campaign policy platform focuses on workers’ rights in wake of disastrous Supreme Court decisions

NEW YORK -- At a rally surrounded by workers, Public Advocate Tish James announced her Attorney General platform to take action against companies that violate workers’ rights. As Attorney General, Tish James will ramp up civil and criminal enforcement of laws that protect workers, tackle workplace harassment and exploitation, and take on companies that use unequal bargaining power to leverage contracts that protect them from lawsuits, accountability, and transparency. The full platform, “Taking on Corporate Greed and Protecting Working New Yorkers” is available here.

New York State needs an Attorney General to step into the breach to ensure workers have the protections they deserve. In the aftermath of the disastrous Supreme Court decisions in Janus v. AFSCME and Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, the need to take real action to protect workers against corporate greed and malfeasance is more important than ever.

“In the wake of recent destructive decisions from the Supreme Court, New York must fight harder than ever to protect the rights of our workers. As Attorney General, I will take on the companies and policies that allow for the exploitation of our workers and challenge the contracts that silence their voices. I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure that justice applies equally to every hardworking New Yorker,” said Public Advocate Tish James.

As Public Advocate, Tish James has always stood up for workers: demanding fair contracts, battling privatization, pushing for paid leave, championing the right to organize, and calling out corporations and agencies that wrong their workers. She passed landmark equal pay legislation banning companies from asking about salary history. She investigated dangerous construction fraud, led the way on making nail salons safer for low-wage immigrant workers, fought for more accountability for workplace sexual harassment, introduced legislation that would shine a light on forced arbitration clauses, and exposed wage theft in the car wash industry.

Highlights from “Taking on Corporate Greed and Protecting Working New Yorkers”

As Attorney General, Tish James will use the tools of the office to bring industry-changing actions against companies that violate their workers’ rights.  She will ramp up criminal enforcement of the labor laws, expose systemic workplace harassment, target the shifting tactics of worker exploitation, and take on the challenges of enforcing workers rights in the modern economy.

As Attorney General, Tish James will:

●     Create an Arbitration Review Team to act on complaints by workers who have been barred from bringing their own actions because of arbitration clauses in contracts they were made to sign as a condition of employment.

●     Target companies that use contracts to avoid accountability, exploit workers and deny their rights through the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements and non-compete clauses.

●     Fight abuses in the workplace by taking on sexual harassment, enforcing equal pay laws, fighting gender wage discrimination, and defending immigrant workers’ rights.

●     Defend workers from corporate theft by taking on wage theft, aggressively policing wage violations on public contracts, investigating worker misclassification, and pushing for legislation that will hold predatory businesses accountable.


Support for “Taking on Corporate Greed and Protecting Working New Yorkers”

“With the recent destructive decisions from the Supreme Court attacking unions, it is more critical than ever that we have strong leaders standing with us to protect the rights of working people. Whether we’ve been fighting for fair contracts, pushing for paid leave, or even standing on picket lines, Public Advocate Tish James has always been with us as a vocal advocate for workers. Tish has long been a strong supporter of New York City’s workers, and we are proud to support her as she steps out to protect the rights of workers statewide,” said George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU.

“At a time when union-busting has become a top priority of the ultra-wealthy and the legislators across the country in their control, it is important that New Yorkers take the lead to repel speak this pernicious, toxic form of class warfare. The history of the American labor movement is steeped in struggle, and as the Supreme Court recently demonstrated, that struggle continues. We thank Public Advocate James for gathering us today to reaffirm our commitment to workers’ rights,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, DC 37.

“Whether through forced arbitration or wage theft, too many of our workers are stripped of their basic rights every day. We need an Attorney General who will never be afraid to stand up to these companies that try to hurt working New Yorkers, and that is why we need Public Advocate Tish James at the helm. She has always fought for workers and we know that her commitment will never waver,” said Kyle Bragg, Secretary Treasurer, 32BJ SEIU.

“Public Advocate Tish James has always been an ally of labor and a true partner of the District Council. The Attorney General’s office has been a critical partner in exposing unscrupulous contractors willing to build their bottom line by profiting off the backs of working-class New Yorkers. With James in office, I am confident that partnership will continue and protections for workers in the state will only be strengthened,” said Joseph Geiger, Executive Secretary Treasurer, New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters.

“Public Advocate Tish James is a long time advocate of the rights of all workers. She never hesitates to stand up for New Yorkers who are being taken advantage of. She is a champion of the people, who will use the office of Attorney General to fight for justice and to amplify the voices of those who are too often unheard. We at Local 46 wholeheartedly support her candidacy,” said Melissa Shetler, Director of Organizing, Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers.


The following is a list of labor unions and Democratic clubs who have previously endorsed Public Advocate Tish James for Attorney General:


Labor Unions:

●     1199SEIU (420,000 workers nationwide)

●     32BJ SEIU (85,000 workers in New York State)

●     CWA District One (80,000 workers in New York State)

●     CWA Local 1180 (8,600 workers in New York State and 6,200 retirees)

●     DC 37 (125,000 members in New York State)

●     LiUNA-NY (40,000 workers in New York State)

●     NYSNA (42,000 workers in New York State)

●     New York State Iron Workers District Council (10,000 workers in New York State)

●     RWDSU (45,000 workers in New York State and 100,000 workers nationwide)

●     TWU Local 100 (41,000 workers in New York City)


Political Clubs:

●     38th Assembly District Regular Democratic Club Part A

●     Anoroc Democratic Club

●     Ansonia Independent Democrats

●     Barack Obama Democratic Club

●     Bay Ridge Democrats

●     Black Democrats of Westchester County

●     Community Free Democrats

●     Douglas King Regular Democratic Club

●     Downtown Independent Democrats

●     Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club

●     Elmer H. Blackburne Regular Democratic Club

●     Fred Wilson Democratic Club

●     Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats (GLID)

●     Geraldine A. Ferraro Democratic Club

●     Good Government Regular Democratic Club

●     Grand Street Democrats

●     Guy R. Brewer Democratic Club

●     Independent Neighborhood Democrats

●     Jefferson Democratic Club

●     Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

●     Kissena Democratic Club

●     Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

●     Lexington Democratic Club

●     Moynihan Democratic Club

●     Multicultural Democratic Club of Flushing

●     New Visions Democratic Club

●     Powhatan and Pocahontas Democratic Club

●     Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club

●     Sojourner Truth Democratic Club

●     Taminent Regular Democratic Club

●     Thurgood Marshall Regular Democratic Club

●     United for Progress Democratic Club

●     United Democratic Club

●     United Democratic Organization

●     Village Independent Democrats (VID)

About Public Advocate Tish James

Public Advocate Tish James is currently serving in her second term as the Public Advocate for the City of New York. She is the first woman of color to hold Citywide office in New York City. As Public Advocate, she serves as a watchdog over New York City government agencies, and an advocate and lawyer for the City’s most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. As Public Advocate, Tish has transformed the office to be a real engine of reform and progress. Her office has handled over 32,000 constituent complaints and passed more legislation than all previous Public Advocates combined, including groundbreaking legislation that bans questions about salary history from the employment process to address the pervasive gender wage gap.

Prior to serving as Public Advocate, Tish James served as the New York City Council Member for the 35th District in Brooklyn. As a Council Member, she passed the Safe Housing Act, legislation that forced landlords to improve living conditions for tenants in New York City’s worst buildings. She helped uncover the corruption behind the Office of Payroll Administration’s CityTime contract, a scheme that cost New York City over $600 million. She also pushed through a revolutionary recycling package that included expanding plastic recycling, a new clothing and textile recycling program, and increased access to recycling in public spaces.

Before her election to New York City Council, Tish James served as head of the Brooklyn Regional Office of the New York State Attorney General’s Office. She resolved hundreds of consumer complaints and investigated predatory lenders who preyed on first-time homebuyers. She assisted the Civil Rights Bureau in its investigation of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and cracked down on firms engaged in deceptive business practices including violations of human rights, environmental laws, and scams targeting immigrants.

Tish began her career as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society. She is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and Lehman College.