by RIKKILYNN SHIELDS, Senior Writer
Change comes in many forms. For some, the new year seems to be the most inspiring and popular time to kick old habits and replace them with new ones. One’s list of new year’s resolutions could go on for pages. In fact, New York City hopped on the bandwagon, implementing over 19 new laws on Jan. 1, 2019.
Minimum Wage Increase
Amongst the Manhattan College community, one of the most popular laws that went into effect in New York City this year was the minimum wage increase– something a handful of students at Manhattan have been awaiting for months. According to the law, for workplaces in New York City that include 11 or more employees, minimum wage increased to $15/hour, and $13.50/hour for workplaces in New York City with 10 or less employees. In addition, fast-food workers will also be earning $12.75/hour.
Seniors Isaiah Chase and Caroline Ferri were elated to hear about the pay increase. Ferri has worked in the training room for three and a half years.
“I think it’s great being that it’s more expensive to live in New York City. My supervisor has not changed the roles o my job with the wage increase, my duties have remained the same but just with a slight pay increase!” Ferri said.
Chase has worked in the O’Malley Library as an ITS star since for a little over a year.
“I am originally from Rhode Island, and even though it isn’t too far, I’ve realized that the cost of living in New York is definitely a bit more. In regards to the minimum wage increase, I think it’s good for students, like myself, who are in a transition period, working towards becoming independent from their loved ones as they make their way towards graduation,” said Chase.
Any and all food-service businesses in New York City can no longer offer, sell, or own any sort of Styrofoam food container. This includes cups, plates, takeout containers and more.
“I think it’s great that the styrofoam ban happened in the city. However, I would like it to be seen across the state and in other states as well. This law is very important, especially being that we are in a urban area. As college students, we tend to eat out a lot, and it’s easy to see the waste that comes from that, especially styrofoam. I’ve already seen changes in Jasper Deli, who is now using recycled plastic. What I would like to see next is a greener initiative within our college, especially Kelly Commons where most take out food is served. We can all work together to help the environment, especially on campus since, so I think this is a very good first step in going green across the city and the state,” said junior Isabel Quinones.
Pharmacies Can’t Sell Cigarettes
As of Jan. 1, New York City pharmacies are no longer allowed to sell cigarettes or any other tobacco products. This ban spreads not only to pharmacies in the city, but also to big box stores as well as supermarkets.
Parental Leave Benefits
New York City employees, who are considered eligible, are now able to take up to 10 weeks to care for their newborn child or children, a sick family member, or a loved one with a family member who is actively deployed abroad in the military. The wage replacement also increased from 50 percent in 2018 to 55 percent.
“While maternity leave is very important, we also have to take into account our parents and our grandparents getting older. Majority of the time, taking care of a loved one seems to come across as a hassle, especially when you have to take off work to care for a newborn child or a loved one and aren’t being paid for your time off. I think this law is especially good because of the wage replacement increase, which makes taking care of a loved one much more accessible and I think accessibility is very important,” said junior Mattie Thrall.
Non-Binary Gender Option on Birth Certificates
In both New York and the beloved neighboring state of New Jersey, transgender residents are now able to change their gender on their birth certificate. This new law allows New York and New Jersey residents to finally amend their birth certificate based on the way they identify. This law also gives parents the option to choose “X” for their newborn while with whom they can defend that this reflects the true identity.
“I saw through social media how hard it was for a fellow member of my high school to have his birth certificate changed. It’s a really long process in general– judges typically take a personal/political stance, and odds are, you can’t get your gender change– and I feel as if having a law/policy in place that allows people to not only choose, but to also be who they are and have a state accept who they are is very important and monumental being that this has been such a controversial issue for so long. In the long run, this law has the potential for being very effective and important because there will be less judicial hearings and court cases regarding a person transitioning. This is also something that paves the way for more cities and more states and more countries to hear out what we have to say. With a law in place in more locations, this will no longer be such a hot topic,” said junior Donovan Reilly.
“The new Gender Neutral option on birth certificates is another step forward for queer rights, specifically those who identity as gender non-binary in New York State. Im happy to see the New York State government is still a bright light in a troublesome time for the LGBTQ community. Although it doesn’t allow the option of gender neutral at birth, the “X” option for youth without the permission of a doctor is a step in the right direction. I hope the LGBTQ community keeps on fighting,” said senior Roi Mase.
Diaper Changing Stations and Lactation Rooms
In New York City, it is now required that all employers provide diaper changing stations in public buildings such as theaters, museums, and other spaces where products are being sold to the public. These changing stations will be available to everyone, regardless of their gender. Employers are also required to provide a lactation room for employees as well. Lactation rooms will be separate from restrooms.
Sexual Harassment Policy
As of the new year, all New York City employees are now required to complete sexual harassment prevention training. This training will take place on an annual basis, and businesses must complete a statement to submit to the state, proving that all employers have gone through training and that there is, in fact, a policy that is being enforced.
These laws, that have only been in effect for about a month, have already had some big impacts on the lives of both students, employees, and residents of New York City.