A controversial bill that would require city employers to pay their workers for sick time was brought back into the spotlight again Wednesday as supporters used a personal story to make their plea. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
They took to the steps of City Hall Wednesday, demanding a City Council vote on proposed legislation they said could save lives.
Among those pleading for paid sick days was the family of Brooklyn supermarket worker Feliz Trinidad. Trinidad was a 34-year-old father of two whom they said ignored his stomach pains in order to work. He died of cancer last month.
“He worked without paid sick days,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, the chair of Churches United to Save and Heal. “He could not afford to take a single day off for medical care since his family counted on his paycheck to survive.”
Clergy, workers, community groups [including Make the Road New York] and the Working Families Party joined Trinidad’s widow and children to push for a bill that would require at least five paid sick days each year so workers could deal with their own sickness or that of a family member.
Trinidad’s wife said he finally went to the emergency room in May and was diagnosed with an advanced stage of stomach cancer. She said his employer, Golden Farm Grocery, didn’t pay him when he went for chemotherapy. The store owner wouldn’t comment.
Supporters said enough councilmembers favor the measure to overturn a potential veto by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is opposed. But like the mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said it would be a burden on small business owners. She has avoided bringing it to a vote for years.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family,” she said. “That said, my position on paid sick leave legislation has not changed.”
Councilwoman Diana Reyna said the smallest businesses could be exempt to shield them from economic harm.
“The speaker has a great leadership role here to play and she can deliver this particular piece of legislation that can be balanced between the employer and the employee,” Reyna said.
Many here say it’s a matter or right and wrong.
“It’s immoral in this day and age workers don’t have paid sick days in the city,” said Lucas Sanchez of New York Communities for Change.
The supermarket workers said they’ll try to unionize to fight for more benefits, including paid sick leave.
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