More than 100 people rallied on the steps of City Hall [including member of Make the Road NY] on Wednesday for what they call “social justice” — guaranteed sick days for all New York City employees.
Brooklyn resident Eric Brown said wherever he works as a waiter he does not get paid sick days.
“It makes you really resentful,” said Brown. “You either go to work or you don’t have a job.”
It is something that advocates say impacts roughly 1.5 million people across the five boroughs.
They explain it is not just about personal finances. It impacts public health, because many employees cannot afford to take a sick day without pay. That means workers leave home sick and potentially spread their germs on the subways, in elevators and where they work.
“Someone who is sick should not have to go to work,” said Marjorie Hill of GMHC.
Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer proposed the legislation about three years ago to mandate employers provide workers five paid sick days per year. Now she has added a dozen amendments to give the bill a new push.
“We’ve been working very hard,” said Brewer. “The bill will now not apply to businesses with less than five employees but it will provide job protection they won’t get fired if they get sick.”
Brewer has 35 City Council members behind her bill, enough to override a mayoral veto, which could come if it were to pass.
“Some companies have better benefits than others and I would suggest when you look for a job, you look for companies that have better benefits,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The mayor said he had not read the amendments yet and neither had the bill’s other powerful opponent, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
“Although this goal is laudable, it’s not one that I can support because I think it is one that will cost us jobs and cost us small businesses and their future in these tough economic times,” said Quinn.
“Almost every initiative for workers has been seen as it’s going to be the end of the industry,” said David R. Jones of the Community Service Society of New York.
Proponents of the bill said they have heard it all before and now they’re working to get small businesses behind them.
“This in the long run is going to help my business,” said one business owner in the rally.
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