New Yorkers continue the fight for paid sick leave

NEW YORK — In spite of petitions, press conferences by community organizations and city representatives, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn continues to stonewall the issue of paid sick leave.

We all have a question for the speaker: Speaker, do you get paid when you are out sick?

I’ll answer for you. You bet!

So why is it that the working class of this city can’t have the very, very small “luxury” of minimal paid sick time? Could it be that once again, doing the right thing takes a back seat to one’s opportunism?

I think that is just what it is – pure and simple. But you know, in the end, doing the right thing is what the people of New York City will remember when they go to the polls.

The speaker already disconnected herself from the working families of the city when she voted for and pushed others to allow billionaire Mayor Bloomberg to run for a third term; spending over one hundred million dollars of his own money!

Thirty-seven members of the Council have signed the bill and labor unions have been outspoken in favor of the bill for paid sick leave.

How can it be, that in this day and age when poverty is visiting more and more households and with the pressures of making ends meet, can we not have the most basic paid sick time?

Some one million New Yorkers can’t take a day off when they’re sick. The bill would make sure they earn paid sick days and would prevent workers from losing their jobs just because they or their children get sick.

And, New Yorkers overwhelmingly favor the proposal, e.g., Quinnipiac Polling Data: 73% in NYC Support Paid Sick Days Legislation

The original bill required most businesses with five or more employees to provide up to five days of paid sick leave a year, but also required that those with twenty or more workers provide each with as many as nine paid sick days. Bloomberg’s response, as would be expected, was, “It would be disastrous for the local economy.”

A weaker version of the bill has been introduced by City Council member Daniel R. Garodnick. It would require businesses to allow five paid days for employees, but exclude seasonal workers, and allow employees, for example restaurant workers, to “swap” shifts rather than take a paid sick day.

As the pressures of every day life on working families escalate, the need for a stronger, not a weaker, sick leave bill is necessary. And, if the mayor is right, and the speaker continues to sit on the bill because they believe it will drive business out of the city, what is the remedy?

Many Americans agree that it’s time to move to a higher stage of civilization – more socialization of basic needs, people before profits – but until we do, we have no choice but to put pressure on Speaker Quinn to do the right thing, disregard billionaire Mayor Bloomberg who hasn’t a clue what it means to live day to day from hand to mouth, and get this bill passed!

City Council person Gale Brewer, District 6, the author of the bill, told the Peoples World: “I strongly support the bill and the Council is willing to compromise to get the bill passed. We are working with community organizations that are involved and fighting with low wageworkers. There will be a hearing in early January.”

City Controller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer have come out in favor of the bill and support raising the living standards of the more than two million minimum wage workers in New York City.





Gabe Falsetta
Gabe Falsetta

Long-time social justice activist Gabe Falsetta writes from New York City.