Give us a break! Mom-and-pops to city
BY MICAELA MACAGNONE
restaurateurs and small business
advocates recently rallied
on the City Hall steps to slam the
crushing fees and regulations that
they say are making it ever harder for
mom-and-pop shops to survive.
Councilmember Mark Gjonaj,
chairperson of the Council’s Committee
on Small Business, led the Wed.,
June 26, rally, which was swelled by
more than 100 business owners.
The event was punctuated by bilingual
chants, including “Wake up, City
Hall!” “Salve Nuestra Bodega!” (save
our bodegas), “Our Jobs Matter!” and
“También Somos Inmigrantes!” (we
are also immigrants).
Gjonaj mostly addressed the burdensome
regulations, taxes, fi nes and
fees put on small business by local
“Since the arrival of the retail
chains and online shopping, small
businesses have shut their doors after
years of providing services to their
Bronx Councilmember Mark Gjonaj, left, led the rally against burdensome
regulations and fees for small businesses.
local communities,” he said. “Furthermore,
it has become harder for
startups to survive: Approximately
50 percent of small businesses and
80 percent of restaurants never make
it past year fi ve. The local small business
industry has changed and small
businesses are in danger. Owners are
struggling to keep their dream and
The protesters specifi cally expressed
their opposition to a paidvacation
measure that the mayor announced
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
in January. The legislation
has not gone anywhere in the face
of strong opposition, would apply to
businesses fi ve employees or more.
However, according to a June survey
of more than 1,470 New York City
small business owners across all fi ve
boroughs, 79 percent of them said
they can’t afford to provide employees
with two-weeks paid vacation; 80 percent
are concerned they would have
to lay off employees, reduce hours or
scale back operations if their business
is required to provide the benefi t; and
93 percent of small business owners
are opposed to an unfunded mandate
for two-weeks paid vacation.
There were also — as at previous
Gjonaj-led rallies about small business
— mention of the long-stymied
Small Business Jobs Survival Act.
Activist Marni Halasa, an S.B.J.S.A.
advocate, held up a sign slamming
Council Speaker Corey Johnson,
claiming he was “anti-immigrant,”
“pro-developer” and “anti-jobs.”
While Johnson, in 2017, did claim to
support the S.B.J.S.A. in a Twitter
post, since becoming speaker he has
removed his name as a co-sponsor of
the legislation. A spokesperson previously
told this paper that, as speaker,
Johnson is more discriminating about
which bills he attaches his names to.
Other speakers included Andrew
Rigie, of the New York City Hospitality
Alliance, who emcee’d the event;
William Rodriguez, president of the
National Supermarket Association;
Frank Garcia, chairperson of the
New York State Coalition of Hispanic
Chambers of Commerce.
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