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Paid Sick Leave Bill Advances in New York City

New York City workers would receive five paid sick days a year under a measure the New York City Council will vote on soon. The New York Times reports the paid sick leave bill is expected to pass with enough votes to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s promised veto.

A powerful coalition of workers, unions and community groups mobilized around the issue that had been bottled up in the City Council. The groups were able to come to an agreement with Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn to bring the paid sick leave measure to a vote.

The bill would require firms with 20 or more workers to provide five paid sick days beginning in 2014 and 18 months later it would cover companies with 15 or more workers. About 1 million New York City workers currently have no paid sick leave. 

Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party, told the Times:

This is a sweet victory. It provides economic security for New Yorkers and a shot in the arm for the paid sick days movement across the country.

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, more than 40 million people in America work in jobs where they have no access to paid sick days. In addition to the potential loss of wages and jobs for working families, the lack of paid sick days forces many people to go to work when they are contagious and get co-workers and customers sick. No paid sick time also decreases productivity for workers who show up unable to perform to their normal level of ability. Paid time is especially important for low-wage workers who cannot afford basic necessities when they miss work because they don't have paid sick leave. 

Last month, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the Healthy Families Act, which would give workers the opportunity to earn paid sick leave they could use for personal illnesses or to take care of sick family members, among other uses.

Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., have implemented paid sick leave requirements, and campaigns or legislative initiatives are under way in  Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Orange County (Fla.), Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Vermont, Washington State and Wisconsin.

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