'Common Cause' Says Speaker Has Refused To Let Council Vote On The Issue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The fight over paid sick days for New York City workers has apparently stalled.

A political watchdog group said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is standing in the way of a fair fight.

The “New York City Paid Sick Time Act” would require businesses with five or more employees to give their workers five paid sick days a year.

“If people work hard, and if they get sick, they should be compensated,” Manhattan resident William Patterson told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu on Thursday.

“If you got employees coming in sick, you’re going to make your other employees sick,” said John Whalen of Brooklyn.

But the owner of Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine, which has 25 employees, said it is already a struggle to keep the business alive.

“It will be very difficult to do that and then if they approve that, what will be next, and if they force us to give them health coverage, we might as well close,” Michael Cortez said.

Right now that bill is stuck in the City Council.

Out of 51 members, 38 support the bill. That’s nearly 75 percent, but some said Council Speaker Quinn has refused to let council members vote on the issue.

The group “Common Cause” sent a letter to council members, saying “We have long expressed concern that the centralization of power within the speaker’s office is detrimental to the Democratic functioning of the New York City Council.”

In the past, Speaker Quinn has said the economic hit to small businesses is why she hasn’t supported the bill.

City Council Member Gale Brewer introduced the bill four years ago and said they’ve made lots of compromises to make it more business friendly.

Small non-profits and companies that already have benefit packages in place would not be required to offer paid sick days. Brewer said it’s time to let the council vote.

“We have been talking about this bill since 2009 and we would love to have the speaker’s support in going to a vote,” Brewer said.

Someone also apparently decided to mock the speaker’s opposition with a spoof website called quinnfornewyork.org.

The website, which Quinn said was not her campaign website for mayor, stated “It’s Time for a Vote,” the Associated Press reported.

On Thursday night Quinn reiterated her support for sick pay, but not at this time because businesses are struggling to survive in the fragile economy.

Her spokesman said the council could override the speaker and force a vote by getting signatures from seven members.

A public hearing on the bill is set for next Friday.

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