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Women Rally for Paid Sick Days

July 18, 2012

A crowd of supporters, including members of working-class advocacy organization Make the Road NY, gathered at City Hall Wednesday to announce the formation of Women for Paid Sick Days, a new initiative in a bigger campaign for paid sick day legislation. (Courtesy of Women for Paid Sick Days)

A crowd of supporters, including members of working-class advocacy organization Make the Road NY, gathered at City Hall Wednesday to announce the formation of Women for Paid Sick Days, a new initiative in a bigger campaign for paid sick day legislation. (Courtesy of Women for Paid Sick Days)

 

NEW YORK—A campaign in support of paid sick days for employees citywide has launched a new initiative called Women for Paid Sick Days.

Among the six women in charge of the initiative are philanthropist Jennifer Buffett, daughter-in-law of investor Warren Buffett, and Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of working class advocacy organization, Make the Road NY.

The campaign includes distributing over 100,000 Dear Neighbor letters throughout the five boroughs targeting primary voters. Twenty thousand people have already signed a petition calling for the paid sick days bill.

Almost half of working New Yorkers don’t have paid sick leave, according to Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who sponsored a bill in support of the initiative. That is about 1.5 million people, including 54 percent of parents with children in public school, and 65 percent of low-income public school parents, she said.

Women in charge of the new initiative Women for Paid Sick Days gathered at City Hall Thursday, seeking the signing of legislation mandating paid sick days for more than a million New Yorkers. (Courtesy of Women for Paid Sick Days)

Women in charge of the new initiative Women for Paid Sick Days gathered at City Hall Thursday, seeking the signing of legislation mandating paid sick days for more than a million New Yorkers. (Courtesy of Women for Paid Sick Days)

 

The bill’s purpose is to give working mothers and others who encounter certain situations—including getting sick, but also a situation like taking care of a family member who is sick— the flexibility to take time off. It would allow workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for each 30 hours of work, but caps paid sick time at 72 hours a year generally, and 40 hours a year for small businesses.

Access to paid sick days would prevent 48,000 New York City emergency room visits, according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The 5 Boro Chamber Alliance has opposed the bill, saying it would hurt small businesses. Some trade organizations believe the language of the current bill is unclear about the difference between part-time and full-time workers, and would be problematic for annual negotiations with unions.

Members of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor heard testimony in May, and the bill is still under review in the committee. Chairperson of the committee, Councilman James Sanders, could not be reached for comment by press deadline. So far, 37 councilmembers have co-sponsored the bill.

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