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New York City Council Speaker Blocks Paid Sick Day Law Despite Popular Support
New York City’s paid sick leave bill is backed by grassroots labor activists, a veto-proof majority of the city council, the New York Times editorial board, and even some celebrities. However, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D) is blocking the measure from coming up for a vote, claiming it would have a negative effect on small businesses.
The city’s proposed law would require businesses that employ 20 or more people to give their employees at least nine paid sick days each year; those with 19 or fewer employees would be required to provide five paid sick days. Currently, over a million New Yorkers are left with equally undesirable options when confronted with an illness: go to work sick or go without pay. Passing the Paid Sick Days Act would help New York City employees gain the labor protections that are already nationally mandated in 163 other countries around the world.
Nevertheless, Quinn refuses to bring the bill to a vote in the city council — dealing a blow to struggling service sector employees, who are disproportionately female:
Women in low-wage, service sector jobs make up the lion’s share of workers without sick leave.
“They are waitresses, cashiers and home health aides. Many are immigrants; few have political clout. Yet their work contributes to the economic growth of the city,” said Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
“It’s time to make paid sick days for New York’s working women and men a reality,” Poo added. “We’re going to push and prod and call on Speaker Quinn to bring this important measure up for a vote.”
The National Domestic Workers Alliance has partnered with other progressive allies to launch a petition pressuring Quinn to reconsider her stance and allow New York to join the other cities — including San Francisco, Seattle, and Connecticut — that have already enacted paid sick day laws.