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CONGRESSWOMAN VELAZQUEZ AND COUNCIL MEMBER REYNA CALL FOR PAID SICK DAYS

April 6, 2012

Officials Add to Growing Support Among Small Businesses

 

Press Contact:
Javier Valdes (English and Spanish) (917) 679-2971, Javier.Valdes@maketheroadny.org
Emma Woods (English) 646-200-5303/203-568-4780 emma@berlinrosen.com
Joe Dinkin (English) 978-223-5868 jdinkin@workingfamilies.org

NEW YORK — Today, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez and Council Member Diana Reyna led a press conference at City Hall in support of the paid sick days bill pending in the City Council, alongside a group of small business owners.

Velázquez and Reyna are both recognized as leading advocates for small businesses and experts on issues that concern the small business community. Rep. Velázquez is the ranking member on the Congressional Small Business Committee and Council Member Reyna is the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Small Business. With Council Member Reyna’s new support, a total of 36 Council Members are sponsors of the paid sick days bill — more than the number of votes needed to overturn a Mayoral veto.

A growing number of small business owners have come out in support of the paid sick days bill in the past weeks, since the announcement of  amendments to the proposal, crafted in consultation with business owners to ensure flexibility and competitiveness for small businesses, and minimize administrative requirements. Last week, another group of business owners came together in Jackson Heights to voice their support for paid sick days.

Some of the amendments include:

  • A one-year grace period for new businesses before they’re required to provide paid sick days
  • An exemption for  “mom and pop” shops with five or fewer employees (which includes more than 60% of New York businesses) that only requires them to offer unpaid leave that protects the jobs of employees;
  • Reduced bookkeeping requirements and the creation of new on-line resources for business owners.

“With these amendments, everyone can get behind this paid sick days bill. New York City’s small business owners know that it’s not only our families and communities that suffer when workers don’t have paid sick days – our businesses and our economy suffer as well. I look forward to continuing this conversation as a voice for small businesses across the city. It’s time to pass the paid sick days bill,” said Council Member Diana Reyna.

Esmeralda Valencia, owner of Esmeralda’s Restaurant in Bushwick, is one of several business owners who spoke at the press conference. “I treat my employees right by providing paid sick days. My employees trust and respect me for it. The benefit of having loyal and hardworking employees I can rely on far outweighs the cost of a few paid sick days,” said Valencia. “I don’t have to worry about losing my job when I’m sick. It shouldn’t be different for the people who work for me.”

While small businesses like Valencia’s are coming out in support of the paid sick days bill, advocates say that some of New York’s largest businesses are hurting New Yorkers and damaging the economy by failing to provide paid sick days. “We’re standing in support of paid sick days with local businesses that do the right thing for their workers and for the economy,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “If Esmeralda’s can do right by their workers, McDonalds and Target should, as well.”

The City of San Francisco enacted its paid sick days law in 2007. Even during the harsh recession, San Francisco’s job growth outperformed neighboring counties. Today, two thirds of business owners in San Francisco say they support the paid sick days law. Last year, the global accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers released a study that ranked San Francisco as the third best city in the world for attracting business and entrepreneurs.

Across the country, cities and states have been adopting paid sick days policies to help improve public health and bolster the economic recovery. Last June, Connecticut passed the first statewide paid sick days law. Seattle and Philadelphia City Councils both passed paid sick days laws in the fall, and the Massachusetts state legislature just voted a bill out of the labor committee.

The NYC Paid Sick Days Campaign is a coalition of low wage workers, women’s rights advocates, healthcare providers, small business owners, labor unions and community organizations who believe New York cannot afford to wait for paid sick days. Paid sick days is a commonsense policy for our city and our economy that protects family economic security and public health.

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