ColorOfChange and Partners Deliver 50k Petitions to Quinn Calling for Action on Paid Sick Days

October 5, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kayla Keller, 281.682.6212, Kayla@fitzgibbonmedia.com

NEW YORK – Yesterday, dozens of parents, children, elected officials and other supporters convened at City Hall with baby strollers in tow to deliver 50,000 petition signatures demanding that Speaker Quinn allow a vote on the paid sick days bill.

More than a million New Yorkers lack paid sick days at their jobs. The burden falls heaviest on working Black, Latino and immigrants working in New York City.

“Right now, more than a million mostly Black, Latino and immigrant workers in New York City go to work every day, without the benefit of having any paid time off to care for themselves or a loved one in the event of an illness,” said ColorofChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “This poses a serious threat to the economic security of working families and places the health of all New Yorkers at risk.”

The Community Service Society’s Sick in the City report found that 65% of New York’s working low-income public school parents – nearly two out of three – do not have any paid sick time.

“Today I’m standing in support of paid sick days, not as a politician, but as a new father," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who joined the rally with his baby son Max. "No working New Yorker should be looked in the eye and told that her health, or the health of her family is a luxury she can’t afford – or one this city can’t protect.”

“In this moment of profound income inequality, paid sick leave legislation` will provide a measure of economic security and flexibility so many families desperately need. The democratic process has been satisfied in every regard save one: an up or down vote. It’s time to move this forward,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Half of working moms miss work when a child gets sick. Of these, half lose pay when they take this time off. Research also finds that 28% of parents of children with asthma have missed at least one medical appointment because they could not get time off work.

"I used to work at a restaurant, working long hours to sustain my family. When I became sick, I was forced to choose between my health and my job. No mother should be forced to make this choice," said Celina Alvarez, a member of Make the Road New York, who lost her job when she didn't have the paid sick time she needed to recover from illness. "It's time to for a vote on the paid sick days bill."

A bill to allow workers to earn paid sick days is pending in the New York City Council with 37 co-sponsors. But so far, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not allowed a floor vote on the bill.

“No worker should ever, ever have to choose between losing a day’s pay and staying home to recuperate from illness or to care for a sick child,” said MomsRising Executive Director and CEO Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “A majority of the New York City Council members recognize this and are prepared to vote to support earned sick days. Speaker Quinn’s refusal to allow a vote on this bill is unfair to the more than a million New York workers, many of them moms, who have to face the impossible choice between their families’ health and their jobs.”

"When NYCC member Felix Trinidad was battling stomach cancer, he couldn't take a day off to rest after treatment, let alone to take care of a sick child. Having time off to rest when you sick or to take care of an ailing child should be a fundamental right, especially for low-wage wage workers who can barely survive on their regular wages," said Amelia Adams, Political and Legislative Director of New York Communities for Change.

The 50,000 petition signatures were collected by members of ColorofChange.org, the NYC Campaign for Paid Sick Days, Working Families, A Better Balance, the Community Service Society, Moveon.org, MomsRising.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, DailyKos, Restaurant Opportunities Center, New York Communities for Change, United New York, ALIGN, the New York Civil Liberties Union, Manhattan Young Democrats and others.

"I'm lucky to have the paid sick leave I need to be able to care for my young son when he gets sick. I believe it shouldn't be different for any parent. No child should have to suffer on a cot at school when they should be in bed at home, getting the care they deserve from a parent," said Cari Jackson, Director of Parent Organizing at A Better Balance who launched an online petition signed by more than 10,000 New Yorkers. In total, the rally participants delivered more than 50,000 petitions and postcards to Speaker Quinn.

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With more than 800,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest Black online civil rights organization.

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