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City Council Approves New York City Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Bloomberg Argues Measure Is 'Not Good Business,' Expected To Veto

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More than 1 million workers in New York City will now get paid sick leave. The City Council passed a bill Wednesday over the strong objections of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fears it could hurt small businesses.

The 25 people who work at the Chelsea Square coffee shop will now be eligible for up to five paid sick days, but owner John Lapsatis told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer the soaring costs have forced him to raise the price of bacon and eggs by nearly 300 percent. He said the costs of paid sick leave will be passed along to his customers.

“Of course, everything makes it more difficult to make money. Today, restaurants have a hard time to make money; bicycle lanes, all the other things, you know,” Lapsatis said.

He also said that he’ll have no choice but to do it.

“I’m gonna do it, yes,” Lapsatis said.

The bill passed the City Council by a vote of 45-3, after four years of often tense and controversial negotiations with business groups who fear it will hurt the little guy.

Under the new legislation, businesses with 20 or more employees will have to give their employees five paid sick days starting April 1, 2014.

The following year, the requirement expands to include businesses with 15 employees by October 2015. The bill exempts manufacturing jobs and seasonal and work study employees.

“Sick time can be used for an employee’s physical or mental illness injury or medical care and for the same purposes when caring for a spouse, domestic partner, child or parent,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

“No worker will be fired if they must stay home. This is a tremendous accomplishment,” Council member Gale Brewer added.

Sherry Leiwant is part of the coalition that had been pushing for the measure.

“We heard from so many parents who said they’ve lost their job because they had to stay home sick with a child,” Leiwant told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell ahead of the vote.

Kramer spoke to one doctor who said the bill and its passage was long overdue.

“Every week I see patients in clinics who need paid sick days. One day it’s a mom who works as a home health aide. She can’t take time off for her son’s life-threatening allergies. Another day it’s a patient who can’t come in for his diabetes care,” said Dr. Bill Jordan of the Bronx.

The bill contains a reverse trigger. If the economy worsens the bill will be delayed until the economy gets better.

A spokesman for Bloomberg said the mayor will veto the measure, but the City Council has the votes to override it and make the bill law, CBS 2’s Kramer reported.

“An awful lot of people who really need jobs are not going to have jobs,” Bloomberg said on Wednesday afternoon following the City Council vote. “Some companies are just going to lay off a person or two to get below the limit or they’ll go out of business. But here’s a group of people who really need help getting jobs and to make it more uneconomical for companies to employ them is just not good business.”

“They just don’t have the capacity to pay extra, and five days is a lot of extra salaries for them. And history shows that an awful lot of people will take those days whether they’re sick or not,” the mayor added.

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