NYCOSH    

August 20, 2012 

 

Dear Friends,  

 

We need your help to convince New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow the City Council to vote on a bill to provide 1.5 million New Yorkers with sick leave. Thirty six members of the City Council, well over a majority, are supporting the Paid Sick Time Act (Int. 0097-2010). The proposed legislation would require companies to provide 5 or 9 days of paid sick leave, depending on the size of the firm, while businesses with less than 5 employees would only have to provide 5 days of unpaid leave. This time could also be used to care for a sick family member.  

 

Speaker Quinn shelved the bill in 2010 and despite various concessions to business interests she continues to oppose the revised version. In the past, she has expressed sympathy to the idea, but she has refused to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote.

Providing paid sick leave to New Yorkers is a no-brainer; employees who show up to work with contagious diseases or send their sick child to school pose a serious public health risk.  

 

Many go to work for fear of losing their job, while others simply cannot afford to lose a day's pay. This issue disproportionately affects the City's low-wage workers: in a 2009 poll of New York City workers, 71% of low-income workers without paid sick time reported going to work sick because they could not afford to forgo pay or feared losing their jobs. We must fight to ensure the rights of some of our city's most underprivileged citizens: working families, low-wage workers, and immigrants. Promoting their well-being protects the health of all New Yorkers.

 

The New York City Central Labor Council and a broad array of community-based, public health and public interest organizations are actively working together to pass this legislation. We need your help - now.

 

Please write Speaker Quinn demanding that she allow the City Council to vote on the Paid Sick Time Act. Below is a model letter which you can send to City Hall or fax to (212) 564-7347.  Click here for an editorial on the issue which recently appeared in the New York Times on August 4, 2012. 

 

Additionally, NYCOSH will be arranging visits to council members to thank those who are supporting the legislation and urge those who have not yet agreed to do so. If you are interested in participating in these meetings please email aaj1106@gmail.com or call NYCOSH at 212-227- 6440.

 

Thanks for your support,

 

Joel Shufro

Executive Director

 

PS Fax a copy of your letter to us at (212) 227-5894.

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The Honorable Christine Quinn, Speaker 

New York City Council

City Hall

New York, New York 10007  

 

Dear Speaker Quinn,

 

I am writing  in support of the Paid Sick Time Act (Int. 0097-2010).   

 

New York City, which has been a leader in protecting the public's health, is lagging behind the rest of the world. 145 countries currently guarantee workers paid sick leave, and San Francisco, Connecticut and the District of Columbia have enacted policies similar to the Paid Sick Time Act. Yet in New York City, over one million workers can be fired if they take off work to care for themselves or a family member who is sick. The proposed legislation will ensure that more New Yorkers enjoy this basic right.  

 

I am disappointed by your failure to introduce the bill to the floor of the City Council. A majority of Council members supported an earlier version of this bill debated in the Fall 2010 session, and Councilwoman Brewer's revised version has broad political backing from 36 members of the Council.

 

While critics cite concerns about the economic impact of the policy, a study of San Francisco's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance demonstrated that businesses were not negatively affected by the policy. In fact, the city has seen job growth since the law went into effect in 2007, while neighboring counties without similar legislation lost jobs. The policy will also provide economic benefits such as increased productivity, higher morale, and lower employee turnover.  

 

Councilwoman Gail Brewer's revisions to the bill include many concessions to business interests. Businesses with fewer than 5 employees will not be required to provide paid sick leave and new firms with less than 20 employees would be given a one-year grace period before they have to observe the policy. These compromises ensure that the costs to small companies are manageable and that the legislation will not negatively affect New York's economy.

 

The proposal is good public health policy. Employees compelled to work when they are sick pose a serious public health risk, to their colleagues and customers, especially those who work in the food services industry. A new study also demonstrates that employees with paid sick leave suffer fewer workplace injuries than workers without that benefit. Parents who are forced to send their children to school when they have a contagious disease are exposing other children and teachers to unnecessary risk. New Yorkers should not be deprived of a day's wage when they most need it to cover their family's health care.

 

While no one should be forced to choose between their well-being and a day's pay, this issue affects the most underprivileged members of our City's workforce. Every day this bill lingers, New Yorkers are compelled to go to work sick and children are left without proper parental and medical care.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health is a leading independent voice for workplace safety and health, advocating for strong laws and regulations while providing resources and training to workers, unions, government agencies and community organizations.  Contact us at 212-227-6440 or nycosh@nycosh.org.

 

Newsline is compiled by Joel Shufro.

 

 

NYCOSH is a union shop, with its staff represented by USW Local 4-149. 

 

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