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In the spring of  2007 the NYS Paid Leave Coalition and  A Better Balance began meeting with Speaker Christine Quinn’s staff  to determine if the City Council had the authority to establish a law to require private sector employers to provide paid sick days to their employees. After the initial meetings when it became evident this was a task for the lawyers, Sherry Leiwant championed the cause for the advocates by  researching all questions and knocking down every obstacle the Speaker’s lawyers put before her.

The city lawyers dragged out this process for a year and a half until they reluctantly agreed the City did in fact have the authority to pass a paid sick days law.

In March 2009 A New York City Paid Sick Days Campaign was kicked off with the establishment of an Advisory Board consisting of representatives from the women’s, children’s, labor, senior, legal, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans-Gender and small business communities. Council Member Gale Brewer offered to sponsor a Paid Sick Time bill and work was begun on bill drafting.

Representatives of the five lead organizations working on the campaign-A Better Balance, Make the Road NY, the NYS Paid Leave Coalition, Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC NY) and the Working Families Party worked hard meeting with Council members, getting 39 co-sponsors out of 51 Council members on the paid sick time bill.

In Nov 2009 The City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor held a hearing on the bill which ran for almost 7 hours. Each panel of advocates was followed by a panel of opponents from the business community. After the hearing Speaker Quinn told the advocates that she was waiting for a report from the Council’s Task Force on Small Business due Dec 31st before calling for a vote on the Paid Sick Time bill since that panel was going to make recommendations to remove onerous regulations on small businesses and she wanted that to happen first before she would call for a vote on a bill that would increase costs to small business.

The long awaited Task Force Report was delayed almost 6 months. In the meantime since 2010 was a new calendar year the Paid Sick Time bill once again had to be re-introduced which took place  March 13, 2010. A second hearing on the bill was held on May 11th, another marathon hearing running 5 hours.

The five lead advocacy organizations requested a meeting with the Speaker which took place in June. At that time Speaker Quinn told us she didn’t know when she would be taking a position on the bill because she had asked the business community to do their own study on the cost of paid sick days and their results would be reported in September.

The advocates have supplied  three studies of the issue and cost and will ask the regional findings from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics- a neutral body- to be reported by Labor Day. We’ve held nine press conferences/events in the past year. This issue has been studied to death and with 36 co-sponsors, it has more than a veto-proof majority for bill passage.

We are delighted to participate in this blog carnival and Twitter party today with all those concerned about this issue. Women are tremendously important to the Speaker as she aspires to be the first woman mayor of NYC in 2013. We are especially counting on women as a constituency to move her on Paid Sick Days.

Next Steps

September actions

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics to release NY regional data around Labor Day
  • Sept 16th- ( Date Unconfirmed) at many schools across the five boroughs teachers will hand out flyers to parents dropping their kids off at school and request they sign postcards to the Speaker and Mayor which the advocates will deliver. At one location  Judy Arroya – Pres of the DC 37 Nurses Local and local Council Members  will assist the teachers –press conference will be held to stress that the teachers are nervous now- whenever a child sneezes they send them to the nurse- to stress that parents need paid sick time so they can stay home with a sick child.
  • Sept 15th or Sept 29th- Delivery of the Women’s Letter to Speaker Quinn after a press conference. High profile women have been signing a letter to Quinn asking her to bring this issue backed up by many studies and a veto-proof majority to a vote by the City Council. Date depends on the availability of Gloria Steinem and Cynthia Nixon.
  • Sept 29th- 5:00pm march of parents and children around the Tweed Courthouse followed by a press conference calling for the need for paid sick days to promote healthy families and healthy workplaces.

We greatly appreciate your participation as a reader in the blog carnival today, as a tweeter letting @ChrisCQuinn know how important #paidsickdays are to New York City families, and in conjunction with our September events. We need your assistance to get Speaker Christine Quinn to do the democratic thing – put the Paid Sick Time bill up for a vote.  Thank you!

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