By Kelsey Durham
Supporters of a bill that would increase paid sick leave for part-time workers are celebrating after Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) announced an agreement that will likely expand the legislation by its inauguration in April.
A bill passed in June 2012 mandated that all businesses with at least 15 employees provide five paid sick days each year for its workers. De Blasio introduced an extension to the bill earlier this month that would instead require companies with just five employees or more to provide five annual sick days to workers, and Mark-Viverito’s allegiance to the revisions pledged the Council’s support for the extended mandates.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said he has been behind the legislation from the start and is happy to see that it has gained so much support from other officials.
“For me, this is about justice and making sure that no one feels like they have to choose between going to work sick and paying rent,” he said.
Former Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) dragged her feet on bringing the sick pay bill to a vote, but after she did the Council approved the measure only to face a veto by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Council then voted to override his veto.
Van Bramer said the passing of last year’s bill provided paid sick leave for nearly 1 million workers throughout the five boroughs but pointed out that he and other supporters of the extension, were not completely satisfied.
“We wanted to go further,” he said. “Last year was just the first step and we’re thrilled that the mayor and the Council speaker have so quickly and aggressively come forward with this.”
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) has also strongly backed the legislation since it was first proposed and applauded de Blasio and Mark-Viverito’s dedication to helping push the bill even further. She said the agreement to extend sick time will have a profound effect on the immigrant community and other working-class families.
“The agreement is a monumental victory for our city and a clear indicator of how true progressives in office are putting the people first,” Ferreras said. “This deal will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for thousands of people.”
The extension to the bill has not yet been approved as hearings must still be scheduled, but it is expected to be fast-tracked through the Council in order to receive rapid approval. Van Bramer said there is no exact time line for when the bill will officially be passed into law, but said he is hopeful it could happen before the original legislation goes into effect in April.
“I believe this will enjoy the support of the vast majority of Council members and be very quickly voted into effect,” he said. “That’s where we’re at now.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.