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NYC Coalition Relaunches Paid Sick Days Campaign

January 25, 2012

by Martha Baker

More than 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall in New York January 18 to hear labor leaders, health providers, a small business owner and community activists address the need for passage of paid sick days. Expanded and re-energized, the coalition called on City Council to pass a revised bill to protect public health and provide relief for families in a tough economy.

Changes to the bill came after numerous meetings with business leaders and others. In the amended version, mom and pop businesses with fewer than five employees would not be covered; their employees would be guaranteed job protection, however, if they needed to stay home to care for a personal or family illness. Other changes include delaying the implementation date for businesses under 20 employers.

Vinny Alvarez, President of the NYC Central Labor Council, was one of several  heads of major labor organizations who spoke at the rally. Alvarez described the 1.5 million hardworking New Yorkers who are forced to go into work sick rather than risk losing the job or wages their families depend on. “That puts strain on families living paycheck to paycheck and puts everyone’s health at risk,” he said.

Edgar Andrade, a small business owner from Brooklyn, said he offers paid sick days “out of respect for customers and workers alike.” Like many business owners, he views the policy as one that benefits his business.

Council Members Gale Brewer and Julissa Ferreras co-chaired the press conference. A veto-proof majority of 35 members support this effort.

“The health of all New Yorkers is at risk when workers with contagious illnesses ride the subway, prepare and serve food, and take care of children and seniors,” said CM Brewer. She pointed out how lack of paid sick time contributes to the worsening of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes, which have reached epidemic levels in some New York neighborhoods.

CM Ferreras emphasized that paid sick time is “a small measure that can have an immediate, positive impact on business productivity, reduce unemployment, and strengthen financial security for families who desperately need relief. In this difficult economy, we need creative solutions to help improve the economic conditions for all New Yorkers.”

The coalition urged Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow the bill to come to a vote.  The coalition has vowed to achieve passage this year.

To view the rally, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4-ZwmV0UO8

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