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Know Your Rights
Source: Crain's New York Business
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Chambers unite against sick-days bill

The city’s chambers of commerce have joined forces to fight a bill**—
supported by an overwhelming majority of City Council members— that would compel
employers to provide their workers with up to nine paid sick days per year.

The groups have formed the 5 Boro Chamber Alliance to oppose the measure,
which they contend could force companies to rethink hiring plans or lay off

“It’s as if the City Council doesn’t understand that we are trying to survive
the worst economic downturn in 80 years,” said Tom Scarangello, of SCARAN, a
family-owned heating and air-conditioning company based in Staten Island, in a
statement released by the alliance.

The group plans to make their case in meetings with Councilwoman Gail Brewer,
D-Manhattan, the bill’s primary sponsor; Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who
has yet to take a position; representatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has
indicated a willingness to support paid sick days for large firms but has
stopped short of embracing the mandate for small ones; and the 37 council
members who have signed onto the legislation.

Under the proposal, companies with 10 or more employees would have to provide
nine paid sick days per year, while those with fewer than 10 workers would need
to give five days. Violators would be hit with $1,000 fines.

The bill’s opponents have their work cut out for them, as the council members
who are behind it provide a wide enough margin to withstand a mayoral veto.

A coalition of community, labor and public health groups have argued paid
sick days could help contain the spread of the H1N1 virus by encouraging workers
to stay home if they, or their children, are sick. They held a press conference
at Department of Education headquarters Tuesday morning to draw attention to
public school parents who cannot afford to take off when illness hits. A survey
by the Community Service Society shows that 1 million New Yorkers, including 39%
of public-school parents and two-thirds of low-wage workers, do not receive paid
sick days.

The bill’s backers contend paid sick day mandates in San Francisco and
Washington, D.C., have not adversely affected small businesses, which benefit
from increased productivity and a level playing field.

Their push is being backed by Korean and Hispanic business groups.

**Make the Road New York is a key supporter of this bill.