On Up With Chris Hayes, his panel of New York mayoral candidates explores the benefits of paid sick leave and why candidate Christine Quinn has blocked it from a vote for three years.
March 25, 2013

Four New York City mayoral candidates joined Chris Hayes to discuss the bill requiring paid sick leave for employees. Most people would consider this issue a slam-dunk, but evidently Christine Quinn, the one candidate who declined Hayes' invitation to the panel, thinks otherwise. Quinn has been blocking a bill to require businesses with more than five employees to give them mandatory sick days, claiming there's just no money to do it.

This is absurd. The workers most affected by a lack of paid sick leave are the workers who most need to have it. Do we really want hotel, restaurant and health service workers coughing and sneezing as they work?

As one of the candidates pointed out in this segment, Quinn is receiving hefty contributions from donors who oppose the measure.

Business leaders opposing paid sick leave legislation have raised or given nearly $370,000 to the mayoral campaign of the person who has blocked a vote on the bill: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Daily News has learned.

The business leaders were among the 180 people who penned an open letter to Quinn last summer arguing that mandating paid sick leave would be prohibitively costly for small businesses. They called themselves the “Coalition for a Healthy Economy.”

Here is the letter they signed (PDF). Some of the names will be familiar, like real estate developer George Kaufman and Loew's CEO James Tisch. There are many, many hedge fund managers and investment advisors, some restaurants and other businesses, but the vast majority are financial industry CEOs. Hardly the spokesmen for small businesses.

Quinn is hiding behind the delay, block, delay subterfuge, claiming that she backs paid sick leave, but thinks the timing is wrong for the economy. This is nonsense. Absolute nonsense, and the UP panel demolishes that argument fairly quickly. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's veto threat, the votes exist for an override if she would actually bring it to a vote. Instead she continues to allow it to languish, along with employees who face a choice between paying the bills or their health.

This is a debate we shouldn't even be having in this day and age. It's not a coincidence that Governor Cuomo had to declare a state of emergency during the flu season this year. When employees go to work because they can't afford to stay home, they spread disease. When they stay home from work, there is less spread and more productivity. You'd think those money boys would pay attention to that.

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