AUGUST 28, 2012 / BY CAMPAIGN STAFF New Yorkers need paid sick time

In New York City an estimated 41% — between 1.4 and 1.6 million workers —  do not have any paid time off to care for themselves or a loved one in the event of an illness.

Today, we launched a campaign demanding that Speaker Quinn put working New Yorkers ahead of her political ambitions and call for a vote immediately. In doing so, she would give than a million New Yorkers access to a benefit enjoyed by workers in 145 other countries. Please read the email that we sent to our New York members and join us here.

Dear friends,

For more than a million New Yorkers — mostly Black, Latino and immigrant workers — getting sick can mean losing a paycheck or, in some cases, a job.1,2

The City Council has proposed a law that would allow New Yorkers at least five paid sick days a year,3 but Speaker Christine Quinn is keeping the ordinance from passing. Although a majority of her colleagues support the bill, Speaker Quinn has refused to allow a vote. She is considering a run for mayor next year and doesn't want to upset the city's business elite. 4,5 It's shameful.

Please join us in calling on Speaker Quinn to provide relief to New York's workers and allow a vote on the Paid Sick Time Earned by Employees Act. It only takes a moment:

No one should be penalized for staying home to take care of themselves or a family member when illness strikes. Workers in the service sector — whose jobs depend on the ability to be quick, clear-headed and friendly — often answer to bosses who demand that they come to work sick.6 More than half of workers who handle food and 43 percent of workers in close contact with children or the elderly do not have paid sick time.7

Based on Speaker Quinn's history of supporting public health measures, the paid sick time bill seemed a no-brainer.8 She's backed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to ban smoking in most public places, trans fats in restaurants, and menus that don't list calorie counts.9

Speaker Quinn's political aspirations are getting in the way of her ability to push policies that keep New Yorkers healthy. She has the power to put a humane and comprehensive sick-leave policy on the books. When the law was first introduced in city council three years ago, it received broad support from council members and the public.10 She's come under the influence of deep-pocketed business lobbyists who claim that the Paid Sick Time Earned by Employees Act will hurt the city's economy.11 They say that such a benefit will hurt businesses and maybe even force them to leave town, taking jobs with them.12

It's a scare tactic we've heard before. The truth is that the costs to businesses providing paid sick leave13 are significantly lower than the healthcare, training, and other related costs of a sick workforce.14,15 In return, these businesses could expect higher rates of employee retention, increased productivity from a healthy workforce and reduced spread of disease on the job.16

Paid sick days are good for workers and employers, but Speaker Quinn won't even bring it to the floor for a vote.17.18 Please join us in demanding that she put working New Yorkers ahead of her political ambitions and call for a vote immediately. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same:

Thanks and Peace,

-- Rashad, Dani, Matt, Arisha, Kim, and the rest of the team

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1. "Steinem Presses Quinn to Back Sick-Leave Bill," The New York Times, 07-17-12

2. "Pressure mounts for Speaker Quinn to allow vote on Paid Sick Days Act," New York Daily News, 08-08-12

3. "NYC Needs Paid Sick Days, Not Lame Excuses," City Limits, 04-03-12

4. See reference 3.

5. "Quinn's quandary," New York Post, 08-08-12

6. "Treatment of fired worker is sickening," New York Daily News, 08-01-12

7. "Still sick in the city," Community Service Society, 01-01-12

8. "In Bloomberg's Healthy NYC, Still Afraid to Take (on) Sick Days," The Atlantic, 07-26-12

9. "A Ban Too Far," The New York Times, 05-31-12

10. "Sick in the city: What the lack of paid leave means for working New Yorkers," Community Service Society, 10-01-09

11. "Vote nay on sick pay, biz bosses tell Quinn," New York Post, 08-07-12

12. "Quinn pressured on paid sick days vote," New York Daily News, 08-08-12

13. "Paid Sick Days in New York City Would Lower Health Care Costs by Reducing Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits," Institute for Women's Policy Research, 02-12-12

14. "Pols argue for paid sick time law," New York Daily News, 04-02-12

15. "Here Comes a Turnover Storm," The New York Times, 10-16-10

16. "Plug the Leak: Employee Turnover- A Consequence of Discriminatory Behavior?," Illinois Business Law Journal, 10-20-09

17. "A ban too far," The New York Times, 05-31-12

18. See reference 10.