April 1, 2013
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – After extensive negotiations, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn successfully reached an agreement on a proposal for paid sick leave for New York City workers March 29, 2013. The agreement is groundbreaking in both its expansion of protections to workers and responsible balanced approach to protecting small businesses.
The bill guarantees that no New Yorker will face the threat of losing their livelihood for taking a day off work because they are sick and it mandates paid sick time be provided by employers with more than 15 employees. The bill has support from many key business leaders as well as most advocate organizations, community associations, and unions. It provides paid sick time to nearly one million New Yorkers.
“We have a good, strong, and sensible piece of legislation that recognizes the needs of every day New Yorkers and the realities that our struggling small businesses face. Throughout these negotiations I have always said that I was willing to listen and engage all sides. Because of deliberate, thoughtful, and at times hard-nosed negotiations, we now have a piece of legislation that balances the interests of workers, small business owners, and local mom and pop proprietors across this City,” said Speaker Quinn.
The bill requires businesses with 20 or more employees to provide five paid sick days to their employees beginning April 1st 2014. The mandate will extend to businesses with 15 or more employees on October 1st 2015. The Department of Consumer Affairs will be responsible for enforcement of the bill. Commenting on the bill, Hector Figueroa, President of SEIU 32BJ said, We applaud Speaker Quinn “for negotiating a bill that will give nearly a million workers paid sick days and provide hundreds of thousands more with an assurance that they won't have to choose between taking their child to a doctor and losing their job.”
“This is a tremendous step forward for New York's working families. Workers will no longer have to choose between their jobs and their health or their children’s health. We are incredibly proud to be a part of this historic and progressive moment here in New York City where so many low-wage workers without paid sick days can now have some economic peace of mind. We thank Speaker Christine Quinn for showing courageous leadership on this issue. And we give our deep gratitude and thanks to the entire Paid Sick Days coalition and our lead negotiators for guiding us through to a successful outcome,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, RWDSU.
Legislators across the country have been following the crafting of the Paid Sick Leave Bill by the New York City Council and Quinn’s compromise legislation has gained her wide respect and notoriety. Similar legislation is been proposed in several cities and states including Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Congressional Democrats in the United States House of Representatives have proposed the ‘Healthy Families Act’, which provides paid sick time for employees and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (California Democrat) supports federal sick leave legislation. Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, one of the groups pushing paid sick time nationwide has stated that the Paid Sick Leave agreement in the City is a real step forward for our country because of the significance of New York City, the number of workers this supports and the fact that this creates momentum around the country.
Quinn had been under pressure from unions and liberal organizations for several years to support paid sick leave legislation. Bill de Blasio and many other legislators has been continually attacking her for blocking legislation and refusing to go forward. Although the stalemate in the past has created negative press for the Speaker, the March 29th compromise legislation orchestrated by Quinn clearly strengthens her position with liberal advocates, minority communities and many unions. The Speaker already has the endorsement of RWDSU, UFCW Local 1500 and RWDSU/UFCW Local 338. Three very influential labor organizations in New York City. It’s expected that the passage of this landmark legislation will sway other labor organizations to her corner. Not a happy thought for her opponents.