Imagine being forced to choose between your health and your job. That’s what
nearly a million workers in New York City could be facing if they or their
children get sick.
Hundreds of workers and students marched across the
Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday in support of the Paid Sick Time Act. And many of
those marchers had nightmare stories. Guillermo Barrera worked as a cook in a
Brooklyn restaurant for nearly seven years, never taking a sick or vacation day.
He told CBS 2 that in September, he was so sick he had to go to the hospital and
was immediately fired, the boss telling him he really didn’t want the job.
"There’s no money for the house, even I don’t have one penny in my
pocket right now," said Barrera. "I don’t have money so it’s very difficult for
us, for my family, for my kids too."
Some say it’s also a public health
issue. On one hand city leaders are telling everyone to stay home and keep their
kids out of school if they have symptoms of the flu.
"But the reality is
if you have a 10-year-old kid, they’re showing flu-like symptoms, you have no
paid sick leave you’re going to send that kid to school and if you’re having
those symptoms yourself, you can’t stay home from work if it means losing money
or losing your job," said Andrew Friedman of Make the Road New York.
small business owners like Bob Schwartz, who’s owned a show store for nearly 40
years, said this is not the time.
"Business is tough, it hasn’t really
turned around at all yet and we’d have to take it away from our employees in
some other way if we added more sick days to them," said Schwartz.
the overwhelmingly majority of the businesses say is that they’re going to have
to cutback on staff to try to meet the requirements of this proposed legislation
and that’s a problem," said Leticia Theodore-Greene of the Brooklyn Chamber of
The legislation would require all employers to give workers
between five and nine sick days a year. Supporters say they’re confident the
legislation will eventually pass, as it has in San Francisco and Washington,
D.C. Their concern is how long it may take and how watered down it may be.
Right now there are no laws in New York requiring employers to give
workers paid sick days. The "Paid Sick Time Act" must make it through the City
Council and Mayor Bloomberg.