ROC-NY Urges Governor Cuomo to Waive Unpaid Unemployment Insurance Waiting Period for Workers Affected by SandyDecember 11th, 2012
Today, ROC-NY sent the following letter to Governor Cuomo, urging him to waive the one-week unpaid unemployment insurance waiting period for the week immediately following Hurricane Sandy, so that workers who missed work due to the storm can access much-needed state assistance. Click here for a PDF version of the letter.
You can also take action. Call Governor Cuomo's office and urge him to waive the one-week unpaid waiting period for unemployment insurance for the week following Hurricane Sandy. Call (518) 474-8390.
Dear Governor Cuomo:
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) is a non-profit membership-based organization dedicated to increasing wages and winning improved working conditions for restaurant workers in New York. As you know, the New York City restaurant industry, and restaurant workers in particular, were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Many of our approximately 5,000 members lost work due to Hurricane Sandy and, as a result, are struggling to make ends meet. I am writing to urge you to issue an executive order waiving the one-week unpaid waiting period under New York’s Unemployment Insurance laws for the week immediately following Hurricane Sandy to provide critical assistance to low income New Yorkers.
The missed days after the storm caused tremendous hardship for many New York City restaurant workers, the vast majority of whom are low wage workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck. These workers simply cannot afford to lose work – missing one week of work can mean not being able to make rent or not knowing where the next meal will come from.
In the weeks following the storm, streams of workers came through our office doors for help. ROC-NY staff spent countless hours speaking with restaurant workers to find out how the storm affected them. We heard stories of hardship and frustration. Some workers borrowed money to pay for food. Some were not able to pay rent in November or December, and some are concerned about not being able to make January rent.
As we helped workers apply for state assistance, we became aware of an unusual inconsistency that hurt workers who qualified for state unemployment insurance (UI). Many workers who did not qualify for UI were able to collect federal money through Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Because DUA regulations do not require a one-week waiting period, recipients of DUA were able to recover wages lost for the week following the storm. However, those who were eligible for UI did not receive any assistance for the week following the storm, and were also ineligible to apply for DUA benefits.
On behalf of these workers, we urge you to retroactively waive the one-week waiting period for the week following the storm. This would fix the inconsistency described above – an inconsistency that does not exist in neighboring states that do not have a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance. We have been told by countless workers that compensation for that initial week is desperately needed.
We appreciate and thank you for your consideration on this important matter.
Daisy Chung, Executive Director
Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York
 NY Labor Law S.590(7).