New York City’s Paid Sick Time Bill Awaits Approval
June 12, 2012 1:01 pm
Millions of U.S. workers do not have paid sick leave — including those low-wage child care, restaurant and health service workers least likely to be in a position to afford a day off with no pay and most likely to be in a position to infect countless others. Unlike every other wealthy developed country in the world, the U.S. does not guarantee workers time off with pay for being sick. Among workers in New York, a recent report found that 64% didn’t have a single day of paid sick leave (PSL), contrasted with 35% of white collar workers. Latinos and mothers with children were least likely to have PSL.
New York City introduced the Paid Sick Time Bill in January to try to help the 1.4 to 1.6 million New Yorkers with no PSL, and it’s waiting for Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s approval before it can be voted on. In New York City, the metropolitan area with the highest income inequality in the country, the bill could go a long way toward helping the most vulnerable workers — as well as providing model legislation for other regions.
In an article for AlterNet, Jin Zhao describes how low wage workers without PSL not only face financial grave short-term financial hardship, but often risk losing their jobs altogether when they or their children get sick. And “PSL legislation makes sense with regard to public health as well. According to a survey commissioned by Community Service Society, a New York-based public policy institute, more than half of workers who handle food and 43% of workers in close contact with children or the elderly do not have PSL benefits. PSL legislation would encourage sick workers to stay home and prevent them from transmitting contagious disease to their coworkers and customers.”
Speaker Quinn rejected an earlier bill, introduced in 2010, on the grounds that the legislation would hurt small businesses, but “the bill has been revised to better accommodate businesses and has gained support from three-quarters of New Yorkers, across the political spectrum. On the city council, 37 out of 51 members support it, a majority that could override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto. (The mayor threatened a veto of the 2010 PSL bill.)”
Zhao emphasizes that “Quinn tows the line of the bill’s well-funded opposition: big corporations such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and Olive Garden. These corporations ‘get big lobbyists like the National Restaurant Association, or the NFIB [National Federation of Independent Business] wrapping themselves in the flag of mom-and-pop shops, when they are really speaking for multimillion-dollar corporations,’ said Ellen Bravo, director of Family Values @ Work, an advocate group for PSL legislation.”
For more on the bill, and for a list of common myths from corporate lobbyists about why this kind of bill is “bad for business” (and why they’re wrong), click here.
Image from here