On Wednesday, January 23, Greenlight Bookstore co-owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo published an open letter in response to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that he is seeking paid time off for all private-sector employees. Greenlight has two locations in Brooklyn, New York.
In the letter addressed to New York City Council Members Laurie Cumbo and Matthieu Eugene, Fitting and Stockton Bagnulo asked the City Council to consider taking actions in support of the city’s small businesses as it addresses paid vacation legislation.
“New York is a progressive city, and as small business owners we are proud to be a part of that,” they wrote. “Our independent bookstore has thrived for 10 years as a space for ideas and conversations, often about social justice issues. We also work hard to give our employees a fair and inclusive workplace and a good quality of life…But New York cannot solve the massive issue of worker fairness by simply dropping it in the lap of its local business owners.”
Fitting and Stockton Bagnulo asked the council members to consider these actions to allow small business owners to support worker fairness legislation:
- Exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees — those that are most likely to be operating with razor-thin profit margins.
- Increase tax credits for small businesses — to help to shoulder the burden of increasing costs.
- Meet with local business owners about sustainable business practices for all New Yorkers. The Small Business Administration, merchant associations, local business involvement districts, and individual business owners — not just such corporate giants as Amazon — need a seat at the table when discussing the city’s future.
The letter notes that New York City and New York State recently offered Amazon — an out-of-state transnational retailer that directly competes with many of the city’s independent business — $1.5 billion to bring its new headquarters to Long Island City, Queens. “No community groups were consulted in advance on this action — just as no one was consulted on the announcement regarding paid vacations,” wrote Fitting and Stockton Bagnulo.