Paid sick leave appears to be dead for now – or at the very least, it’s on life support.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will announce today, October 14, that she will not support the paid sick leave legislation.
The bill, which was supported by the Working Families Party and a majority of City Councilmembers, was introduced in March of this year and currently mandates that employers provide five days of sick time at firms with fewer than 20 employees, and nine days at firms with 20 or more employees.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city’s five Chambers of Commerce and many businesses have protested that the bill would cripple small businesses. Quinn’s support was seen as critical for its passage in the Council.
“We are very gratified that the Speaker has recognized the impact this would have had on businesses,” said Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jack Friedman. “We look forward to working with the Speaker and the City Council on a Worker Protection Act that we could all support.”
Councilmember Gale Brewer, who was the bill’s sponsor, sent an email to supporters saying she met with Quinn earlier in the day, and Quinn told her she could not support the bill as it currently stands. However, Quinn said that she would revisit the issue every two months.
UPDATE: Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said Speaker Quinn’s decision is “bad for the public health of New York City, and is bad for more than one million workers who will continue to have to make the inhumane choice between caring for themselves or their children and losing their jobs.”
UPDATE TWO: Donna Dolan, Chair of the NYS Paid Leave Coalition issued the following statement:
“The first possible woman mayor has just turned her back on a critical but modest lifeline that families around the city need – a stunning abandonment of working mothers and parents and the progressive women who have supported her from day one. New York families hit by this recession need the security of paid sick days more than ever so they don’t have to choose between the health of their kids and paying the bills. Three in four New Yorkers want to see paid sick days pass, including 88 percent of New York’s working moms. Our efforts to make the Paid Sick Time Act a reality are far from over.”
UPDATE 3: Republican Queens City Councilmember Dan Halloran, who has said from the beginning that the bill had too many flaws and would devastate many small businesses throughout the city, praised Quinn for taking this position.
“The Speaker coming out and not supporting it at this time means our businesses will be safe at least for the short run,” Halloran said. “She realizes that in this economic climate we can’t take this kind of risk.”
Halloran said that even if the bill got of the committee, which he is not sure it would, and passes in the entire Council, he does not believe it would have the support of 35 councilmembers, which would be necessary to overturn a potential veto by Mayor Bloomberg.
Check back at www.queenscourier.com for more updates on this story throughout the day.