March 8, 2013
Advocates of the Paid Sick Leave bill languishing on life support in the New York City Council for last three years, now have a graphic new representation of just how long Speaker Christine Quinn has refused to let the widely popular bill onto the floor for a vote. (Read More)
Public Advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio has unveiled the Paid Sick Leave 'Count-up' Clock and petition at: http://advocate.nyc.gov/sickleave. The digital clock follows numerous other petition drives and rallies – the last held February 25 on the steps of City Hall – pushing for passage of the Paid Sick Leave Act. New York City Councilwoman Gail Brewer originally sponsored the measure way back on March 25, 2010.
The legislation, which would allow employees to take as many as five sick days off from work without loss of pay or fear of losing their jobs, enjoys a veto-proof majority from members of the New York City Council, as well as support from a growing list of grassroots organizations, medical professionals and good government advocates.
A recent report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research found that nationwide, paid days would cut down on emergency room visits and save nearly $1 billion in health care costs.
So far, however, Speaker Quinn – widely considered to be Mayor Michael Bloomberg's heir apparent – has ignored all evidence to the contrary, claiming that the bill is "unwise" and would hurt "businesses struggling to stay alive."
Quinn most recently ducked direct calls to stop blocking the Paid Sick Leave bill at a mayoral forum held at the First Corinthian Church in Harlem, where both de Blasio and Republican mayoral hopeful Tom Allon urged the speaker to at least let the measure come up for debate.
The public advocate is hoping his 'Count-Up' Clock is more persuasive.
“Each passing day the speaker blocks a vote in the City Council is a day that working people in New York must choose between their jobs and their health, or the health of their families and children,” de Blasio said. "The 'Count-Up' Clock will serve as a constant reminder of not only how much time has passed since the bill’s introduction, but also the human cost of this needless delay."
Democratic mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese told LaborPress that the Paid Sick Leave bill needs to be further modified because it could hurt mom & pop shops with five or fewer employees – but that Quinn should "absolutely" allow the measure to be debated on the City Council floor.
"No doubt about it," Albanese said. "I don't know why she's holding it up. I think it's foolhardy not to have a paid sick leave program in the city because you don't want people going to work sick. However, I think we have to be careful about the way the bill is crafted because there are a lot of mom and pop businesses that have very thin profit margins."
Presently, more than a million working men and women throughout the city must choose between going to work sick, or seeking medical attention that could cost them a day's pay – or even their livelihood.
"These human costs of political obstruction are the people who have lost their jobs because they or a family member became sick, or people who jeopardized the health and welfare of coworkers and customers because they forced themselves to work while sick, out of fear they might be fired," de Blasio said.
The New York City Council Civil Service and Labor Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the Paid Sick Leave bill on Friday, March 22, at 10:30 a.m.
Nevertheless, the bill will still not go before the full City Council for an up or down vote unless Quinn, in her role as speaker, allows it.