Representative of Local 169V, UNITE, the union of street vendors and from the Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor project will attend an open hearing in front of the Committee on Consumer Affairs. Vendors will gather to rally in front of City Hall at 9:00 A.M. The committee, chaired by Councilman Phil Reed of Harlem, will be addressing a needed reform in New York City laws concerning the street vending industry. Vendors from around the city have agreed to testify in front of the committee to the need for reform of vending laws that are often confusing and conflicting and may move vendors off street corners entirely. Also present will be representatives from New York State AFL-CIO, the Central Labor Council and various colleges and universities. The hearing will take place at City Hall on April 7th at 10:00 AM.
Local 169V representative will discuss problems vendors face when dealing with the City and proposed solutions to those problems. More recently, vendors have come under fire from the City and business owners and it is soon possible that the Department of Consumer Affairs may implement a bidding system that would grant legal vending corners to the highest bidder, Starbucks, McDonalds etc. included. Street vendors fall under a myriad of existing rules and regulations from the Department of Health, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Buildings Department, the Department of Transportation, the Police Department, Department of Environmental Protection, the Corporation Counsel, and the Arts Commission. In addition the vendors are governed by the rules laid down by non-governmental agencies such as Business Improvement Districts and are subject to complaints by building owners who often call the police on vendors. Subsequently, carts are towed, merchandise is confiscated, planters and benches are placed strategically to remove vendors and vendors lose their livelihoods.
Among the issues to be addressed at the committee will be:
1. The permitting process: How do we reform the process to reduce the 6 year long waiting list?
2. The conflicting rules and overlapping jurisdiction imposed on vendors by City agencies.
3. The arbitrary manner in which the rules are applied by the various agencies.
4. Bureaucratic indifference to the vendors’ problems.
5. Inconsiderate treatment by all agencies that oversee the vending industry.
6. Restriction of streets.
7. The recognition of vendors as small business people with accompanying benefits.