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New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gestures as she speaks at the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership BID 2011 Annual Meeting.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
Here's a perfect example of why we need movements to keep up the pressure on politicians, even the ones who are our allies on many issues: New York City workers are expected to get sick leave after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn finally started negotiating for real and will let a paid sick leave bill come to a vote after coming under pressure for blocking it for three years. The compromises Quinn forced make it a less than perfect bill, but it will benefit a vast number of New York City's most vulnerable workers.

Under the agreement, which will likely be vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg but has the council votes for a veto override, businesses with 20 employees or more will have to offer five days a year of paid sick leave beginning April 1, 2014, and businesses with 15 employees or more must offer five days of paid leave beginning October 1, 2015. Beginning April 1, 2014, businesses of all sizes must offer five days of unpaid sick leave. All businesses will also be prohibited from firing workers for taking sick leave.

These are huge advances for workers who have no sick leave options at all right now. But:

New York’s measure would be less stringent than similar requirements in Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, which cover either all companies or those with five or more workers.  

In a provision designed to placate the city’s corporate leaders, the sick-leave requirement would not be implemented next year should the city’s economy significantly erode, as measured by a financial index kept by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Because heaven forbid businesses experience any hardship when we can just keep shifting it to workers.

Low-wage workers, who are likely not to have sick leave, may also soon see another advance in New York City and in the state as a whole: The state legislature is expected to pass a bill increasing the state's minimum wage in three steps, rising to $9.00 an hour in 2016. That plan, too, has some serious flaws, including a provision to subsidize the increase in wages of teenage workers, giving employers reason to try to replace adults with teens. But again, for all its flaws, it would concretely improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 07:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Really Important (8+ / 0-)

    The cost of living in New York City is 213% of the national average. Yet wages for workers don't meet the challenge of expenses.

    The median household income in New York City is $57k a year, compared to a national median of $52k.

    Adjusted for cost of living the median household in New York City makes less than half of the national median. We have a huge population of low wage workers here who are unfairly burdened when it comes to taking sick leave.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:52:02 AM PDT

  •  The NY Times piece on this really pissed me (11+ / 0-)

    off:

    "A legislative compromise reached on Thursday night represents a raw display of political muscle by a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists who overcame fierce objections from New York’s business-minded mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, and his allies in the corporate world."
    Um, just what is "raw" and remarkable about voters representing their own interests? Why is it anymore "raw" than corporate interests? Are voters and regular folks now unseemly?

    Farther down, the piece continues:

    "The legislation would eventually force companies with at least 15 employees to give full-time workers five compensated days off a year when they are ill, a requirement that advocates said would allow much of the city’s labor force to stay home from work without fear of losing a day’s wage — or worse, a job."
    As if 5 days, 5 days!!, would inevitably be exploited by our lazy, shiftless workers. Because it's exploitative to rest when you are sick, and it's not for a CEO to squeeze every last dime out of his/her workforce?

    Thank god for this measure, because it's really time to show some respect again for our workers. The dialogue has shifted so far to the right, it's shameless.

    •  Truly shameless. The change happens incrementally (6+ / 0-)

      to the point where we just accept the new reality, though it seems aboslutely fictional and even farcical.

      Of course ANY movement by workers or common people is seen as thuggish....god forbid unions are involved!!

      Oh, and eff Quinn and her blocking this for 3 years, her getting a pass because of her personal demographics, her caving to bloomberg on his 3rd term, and her punishing nyc neighborhoods with cut funding when they object to anything she does or says.  IMO she will disgust me if she makes it to the mayor's office.

      Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

      by Floyd Blue on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:17:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand more each day... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener, MrJayTee

        ...why Quinn is held in the low regard that she is by most NY Kossacks.

        Is that Primary a done deal or might some of the contenders drop out for a single "Anyone But Quinn" alternative?

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:53:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know, as I haven't followed the mayoral (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener

          machinations very closely.

          Your response reminds me that I need to catch up a bit!

          (I haven't followed much local politics since Anthony Weiner's meltdown, and Dov Hikind's idiocy...several examples of that idiocy).

          Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

          by Floyd Blue on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:00:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  She's a DINO.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LilithGardener, MrJayTee

          She's a DINO, a DLC Democrat, and just a nasty, overall person, and she's an ally of Bloomberg, and she takes a lot of money from rich business people.  It was her who bottled this bill up for years.  Bloomie was going to veto it, but there were enough votes to override it, and Quinn knew it.  So she bottled it up for years until the pressure was just too much.

          I don't want her to be mayor.  I think she'll do a shitty job.

    •  Not just respect for your workers, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, samanthab, LilithGardener, sukeyna

      But also respect for your customers.  Because nothing says customer service like a bonus of a case of flu with your hamburger!

      •  The paid time off, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aquarius40, samanthab, LilithGardener

        would also make it more feasible to get to see a doctor, which means less transmission and serious conditions get caught early, keeping health care costs from further escalation.

        Btw, Bill DeBlasio, candidate for mayor, has been beating the drum on this hard, and I hope NYC kossacks will consider giving him their support over the Bloomberg stooge Quinn, the ethics-challenged John Liu, and the yesterdays news Bill Thompson.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:42:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I can't understand why people don't rally (5+ / 0-)

    hard to make sick and maternity leave a true reality for everyone.  It is sickening that in this country we can not have what most every other country expects from their employer.

  •  I get a lot of traction (5+ / 0-)

    I got a lot of traction in the break room at work when this story came on with the line "I can't imagine why restaurant owners think it's OK to have waiters who are sneezing in my soup".

    Five days is not a lot, especially for workers who have face-to-face contact with a lot of different people.  But it's a good first step.

  •  I've never understood why any employer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbob, Egalitare, LilithGardener

    would want people to come to work sick, even if they aren't dealing with the public. A couple of months ago I threw up in the bathroom at work, and told a co-worker about it. She ran to my boss and told him. When he told me to go home, I said that I thought I just ate some bad lettuce and felt fine, he made me go home anyway.

    Just when you thought there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties, the Republicans go and prove you're wrong.

    by shoeless on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 10:42:00 AM PDT

  •  just say no (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fille americaine

    sick employee waiting on you?

    Walk out the door loudly, if it's too much trouble to tell it directly to the manager.

    Maybe slap a sticker on the door as you leave:

    "Sick employee, enter at your own risk."
    This is actually a public health issue,  not a labor issue.  

    There is no sound louder than the silence of cash registers not ringing.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:47:41 AM PDT

  •  Stupid of govt to have hard cutoffs (0+ / 0-)

    I am sorry, but I am not in favor of government mandating paid leaves and such stuff based on a hard cutoff for size. Maybe a sliding scale > 5-10 employees -2 days. 10-13 employees  3 days, etc.

    This way, businesses won't be doing what we see with Obamacare - trying to get under an employee number limit in case they are on the border.You just made it harder for a company to add that extra employee if they are on the cutoff.  A sliding scale won't make it such a big difference in adding an employee at the cutoff mark.

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