Organization sign-on letter to support City Council staff
Dear Speaker Johnson and Members of the New York City Council,
We write, as survivors and advocates, to ask the City Council to implement a truly harassment-free New York City, and express our outrage and disappointment that after the Council’s failure to expel him last October, Council Member Andy King is once again subject of another disciplinary hearing. The Council must now protect its staff and expel Council Member Andy King.
Despite the City Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics’ 2019 release of a nearly 50-page report of substantiated charges against King—including serial sexual harassment and discrimination, intimidation and retaliation against survivors and witnesses—and a call for expulsion in a New York Daily News op-ed by King’s 2017 complainant, the Council approved ineffective recommendations for sanctions that did not address the root cause of sexual harassment, which is about power. Effectively, these measures only served to punish his constituents, who deserve a representative who can be trusted with full responsibilities of the office.
Moreover, with these insufficient actions, the City Council failed to protect staff, who deserve a work environment free of dangerous conditions, harassment, and discrimination, and set a dangerous precedent that signals to council members that they can repeatedly violate the civil rights of workers and remain in office.
Now, for the third time this legislative session, King is the subject of a City Council disciplinary hearing. And, even while under investigation, King’s predatory behavior was on full display—from his refusal to abide by the terms of previous sanctions, to public comments made on June 30, 2020, when during his budget vote he recommended that a prominent female staffer “take a Calgon bath.”
We stood with the more than 130 current and former courageous City Council staffers who, in an open letter to Speaker Corey Johnson last year, demanded King’s expulsion from the Council. Today, we stand with the Association of Legislative Employees and Harassment Free NYCC to again demand King’s expulsion once and for all; ensure the continued employment of King’s staff, who should not bear the brunt of his misconduct; and to implement common sense reforms to improve and strengthen workplace protections.
The City Council must send a clear message to workers, and the electorate, that city elected officials do not and will not continue to tolerate sexual harassment and discrimination. In addition to a vote to approve King’s expulsion from the Council, this should include reforms to strengthen the Council’s processes in safeguarding staff against harassment, retaliation, and other harmful behavior through an effective independent accountability system and formalized protections.
It is crucial that these internal reforms include input from those most affected: current central and council member staff, and King’s staff, in particular. Once again, we also ask the City Council to convene public hearings modeled after New York State Legislature’s 2019 harassment hearings so that the Council can have the opportunity to review feedback from experts, advocates, survivors and other stakeholders on how to best protect public employees from harassment and discrimination.
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