Surrounded by Labor Leaders, Quinn Announces Sick Leave Compromise - Gay City News | Gay City News

Surrounded by Labor Leaders, Quinn Announces Sick Leave Compromise

SEIU 32BJ's Hector Figueroa flanked by CIty Councilwoman Gale Brewer and Speaker Christine Quinn at the March 29 paid sick leave press conference. | GAY CITY NEWS

SEIU 32BJ’s Hector Figueroa flanked by CIty Councilwoman Gale Brewer and Speaker Christine Quinn at the March 29 paid sick leave press conference. | GAY CITY NEWS

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Scarcely a week after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told an audience of hundreds at an LGBT Democratic mayoral forum that she did not favor moving forward now on pending paid sick leave legislation, she announced a compromise measure to do just that at a March 29 City Hall press conference.

The announcement capped days of intense negotiations between Quinn, an out lesbian who represents the West Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen, and leading advocates for the measure.

“Throughout these negotiations I have always said that I was willing to listen and engage all sides,” the speaker said. “Because of deliberate, thoughtful, and at times hard-nosed negotiations, we now have a piece of legislation that balances the interests of workers, small business owners, and local mom and pop proprietors across this city.”

The legislation, which will take effect on April 1, 2014, will initially require companies with 20 or more employees to provide five days of paid sick leave. Over an 18-month rollout, that minimum threshold will be reduced to 15 employees. Even companies that are not covered by the legislation must, as of next April, allow their workers sick leave, paid or unpaid, of five days without repercussion on their employment status.

The original legislation proposed by West Side City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, on which Quinn had blocked a vote, put paid sick leave requirements on all businesses with five or more employees.

Under the compromise announced, employees must have worked for at least four months for their sick leave eligibility to kick in, and seasonal and work-study employees are not covered.

Manufacturing businesses will also be exempt from the paid sick leave requirement –– “due to the particular challenges of that sector,” Quinn said –– though workers at such companies will still have the right to five unpaid days off.

The law will be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs. In the Brewer legislation, the health department would have had enforcement responsibility. The change is a concession to concerns from small businesses, especially restaurants, that often complain of overzealous health inspectors.

“The DOH, for better or worse,” Quinn said, “is the agency that small businesses complain about most… Consumer Affairs, I think, has a better perspective on small business.”

Provisions in the Brewer legislation providing a legal right of civil action to employees against businesses not complying with the law has been eliminated in favor of a complaint process that will go through Consumer Affairs. A fact sheet released by Quinn’s office stated that the change prevents “a system that could allow for excessive and unsubstantiated lawsuits against business owners.”

Minimum fines have been reduced from $1,000 under the Brewer plan to $500, with the maximum lowered from $5,000 to $2,500.

Despite these modifications to the Brewer bill, advocates expect a veto by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but with more than 40 supporters on the 51-member Council, an override is a foregone conclusion.

March 2013. | MICHAEL SHIREY

March 2013. | MICHAEL SHIREY

The speaker had explained her unwillingness to move on paid sick leave by pointing to the softness of the New York economy, and the legislation gives the city one last out on that score prior to implementation. If economic activity in the city is lower on January 1, 2014 than it was on January 1, 2012 –– as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Coincident Index –– the bill will not take effect next April. A spokesman for the Working Families Party (WFP), which had pressed Quinn hard on the legislation, said sick leave advocates were confident it would surmount that hurdle.

At the end of 2016, the city’s Independent Budget Office will examine the impact of the legislation, and advocates are hopeful that would provide an opportunity to extend the law to include businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

Quinn’s office and the WFP agreed that the legislative compromise would cover one million New Yorkers who currently get no paid sick leave.

Advocates responded with praise for the compromise legislative package.

Hector Figueroa, the president of SEIU 32BJ, a union of building services workers, said, “We… applaud Speaker Quinn for negotiating a bill that will give more than a million workers paid sick days and provide hundreds of thousands more with an assurance that they won’t have to choose between taking their child to a doctor and losing their job.”

Quinn singled out Figueroa for praise at the press conference.

WFP deputy director Bill Lipton termed the compromise bill “strong paid sick leave legislation.”

Brewer, who consistently said the speaker continued a dialogue with her over her proposed legislation even while declining to move forward, said, “After three years of non-stop advocacy and coalition building, I am pleased and grateful that we have reached a deal with Speaker Christine C. Quinn on my paid sick leave bill.”

Reaction from the business community was mixed, but generally reflected relief that the speaker had sought their input and modified the original proposal. Crain’s New York Business, in a March 28 story, quoted Kathy Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City and a contributor to Quinn’s campaign, as saying, “We don’t support paid sick leave, period.”

In a written statement released at the City Hall press conference, however, she said, “Speaker Quinn made an especially bad bill a lot better after listening to the concerns of the business community.” Wylde cited the elimination of “a system of gotcha fines with a complaint-driven mechanism” and an implementation process that “protect[s] us in case of another economic collapse.”

At the press conference, two borough chamber of commerce leaders –– Jack Friedman of Queens and Carlo A. Scissura of Brooklyn –– offered praise for the compromise that was far less grudging.

“This once again shows that Christine Quinn is such an incredible leader,” Friedman said.

August 2012. | MICHAEL SHIREY

August 2012. | MICHAEL SHIREY

Quinn had come under increased pressure in recent months to move on paid sick leave but had remained firm in resisting a Council vote on Brewer’s bill. At last week’s LGBT mayoral forum, she said, “I support the concept of paid sick leave, but not this bill in its current formation. It’s not a question for me of if, it’s a question of when.”

Her rivals were aggressive during the forum in taking her on over the issue, with Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, saying, “Speaker Quinn, you need to stop blocking this bill right now.”

Sal Albanese, a former member of the City Council from Brooklyn, noted that with a majority of members in support of the measure, Quinn was using the same tactic that Council leadership had employed in the 1970s and ‘80s to block a vote on the gay rights law.

Criticism of Quinn over the sick leave issue sparked spirited applause at the March 20 LGBT forum, but the tableau presented at City Hall on March 29 –– with the speaker surrounded by more than a dozen Council members, major labor leaders, and fired up members of both 32BJ and Make the Road New York, a social justice organization –– provided a striking contrast with the week before.

Two of Quinn’s three principal rivals for the Democratic mayoral nomination appeared prepared to give her a win on the sick leave issue. City Comptroller John Liu, congratulating advocates and Brewer, released a statement saying, “many more New Yorkers will soon be able to take care of themselves or a loved one who gets sick without risking their jobs or paychecks.” Thompson, in a tweet, wrote, “While it took political pressure to force her hand, I’m glad Speaker Quinn ended her 3-year, single-handed obstruction of #paidsick leave.”

Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, however, was not mollified. At a City Hall press conference two hours after Quinn’s appearance, he said, “I think if you ask everyday New Yorkers if you want to wait a year or two for paid sick leave, they’ll say no. They can’t afford that. I think if you ask everyday New Yorkers is it okay that 300,000 New Yorkers go left out, they’ll say no.”

Nancy Rankin, the vice president for policy, research, and advocacy at the Community Service Society, a leading advocate for the legislation, said her group estimates that 350,000 workers will be left out of the bill as a result of increasing the threshold from five to 15 workers.

Quinn’s engagement in the negotiations that led to the compromise came as a dozen or so Council members had pledged to support a motion to discharge on Brewer’s legislation, a parliamentary move aimed at sidestepping Quinn’s opposition to allowing a vote. WFP was involved in those efforts and was left out of the negotiations with Quinn over the compromise package.

Quinn’s earlier recalcitrance on the issue had sparked criticism in progressive circles. Gloria Steinem, the longtime feminist leader, recently said she would withdraw her endorsement of Quinn if she did not move on paid sick leave. At the City Hall press conference, WFP’s Lipton read a letter from Steinem in which she “thank[ed] Councilmember Brewer and Speaker Quinn for hanging in there with countless women’s groups” and other advocates.

Last summer, a number of LGBT leaders –– including Dr. Marjorie Hill, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Liz Margolies, executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, Melissa Goodman, an LGBT and reproductive rights attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Amber Hollibaugh, the co-director of Queers for Economic Justice –– told Gay City News they were strong backers of paid sick leave.

“We are a public health organization and so obviously committed to structures and policies that will promote public health,” Hill said. “And we are a social justice organization committed to equity for all.”

31 Responses to Surrounded by Labor Leaders, Quinn Announces Sick Leave Compromise

  1. Perley J. Thibodeau March 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    What happened to the page that I and another person commented on?
    Christine Quinn didn't like what was written?

    • Paul Schindler March 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Oh my god, Perley, there is no conspiracy too small for you to imagine. The other story is archived since it didn't make sense to keep a story on the home page from last night AND one published this morning updated with information from the press conference. The story can be found simply by searching on our site with the headline, the phrase paid sick leave, whatever.

      • Perley J. Thibodeau March 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

        Oh my God, (Capital G pronoun) Paul.
        I saved the highlighted email address for the article so I could refer back to it without having to type it in again to get it to come up on the screen..
        However, when I did just that the big black block lettered message came up that the article was no longer available.
        I can only believe what my computer tells me.
        After all these years (and you and l&gNewYork are mentioned favorably in the book about Central Park that I'm currently finishing up) of me telling you that you are right; I must now tell you that you are wrong.
        But, have no fear, as I've previously copied and pasted all three postings into the body of the text that comprises my voluminous volume of notes for the very next Louie/LuLu murder mystery thriller that lays bare the facts about the New York City Housing Authority, the ill disguised fictional council speaker, and the mayor, and other New York City distasteful subjects that are of no interest whatsoever to anyone other than to them, and to I; myself..
        Thank you for the unexpected built in spell checker. I can write but, I can't spell.

        • Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 4:01 am

          Where's the capital "g" in god? You write endlessly about discrimination against gay people, yet here you are giving credence to the thing that f*cks you over most.

          • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 10:38 am


          • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

            Looking back on my long life I come to the conclusion that God (with a capital G) has always been good to me.
            It was I who caused my own troubles!

          • Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm

            Not long enough Perley. By the sounds of it, you'll soon be at the pearly gates and you can thank the fact you write god with a big "G" for that.

          • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

            That was yesterday.
            I feel "Younger Than Springtime," today.
            Praise the Lord!
            With a capital L.
            If I do get to those Heavenly Gates the first thing I'll do is to tell them there is no a and an extra e in Perley Gates.
            Or; Perley's Gates.
            Then I shall put in a good word for you.
            But, if you beat to it will you in kind put a good word in for me?
            I mean; it's only fitting.

          • Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm

            Sure thing Perl. I think we can both be certain we're a couple of Queens. Yes, Queens with a capital Q!

          • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

            I don't live in Queens.
            I live in Manhattan
            With a capital, New York, New York.

          • Stuart Baanstra March 31, 2013 at 5:56 am

            Yes Perley, whatever. Soon you'll have Quinn as your mayor. That's Quinn, with a capital Q!

    • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 11:06 am

      I did find the missing article the way you said that I could.
      But, it was certainly in a very roundabout way.
      To use still another well worn cliché; "Out of sight out of mind!"
      I mean really Paul; with a capital P.

  2. Perley J. Thibodeau March 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    And what does paid sick leave have to do with Gay Rights?

  3. Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Quinn may be in her loveless marriage, claiming gay people are all but home, yet here she is willing to deny them basic worker rights. Her back-flip shows her belly-up, a ruthless human-being willing to add denial of sick entitlements to a queer community already reeling from impoverishment due to the denial of federal benefits.

    • Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 4:29 am

      Nothing, unless you take exception to a lesbian willing to deal her own community a double-hand (see below). Discrimination doesn't discriminate who discriminates.

  4. Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 10:55 am

    The Daily News today says that Bloomberg isn't going to sign this piece of legislation into law, anyway.
    This shows that he and Quinn have talked it all over and are both in agreement and playing a cutesy game to show that he really pulls her strings, and wants her to get the sympathy vote in the next election.
    "Mike and Ike, they look alike and act alike."
    As they say; "There are none so blind as those who will not see."
    The sooner the two of them are out of politics, the better it will be for all of us.

  5. Stuart Baanstra March 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Queer politics; it's all f*cked up. In New York, in addition to a federal government denying GLBTI people tax relief, you have a lesbian contender for mayor willing to deny them paid sick entitlement.

    Here, in Australia, we've the CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce (rumour is he's gay), signing off on an alliance with UAE Airlines, the national carrier for a country still punishing homosexuality with the death penalty.

    • Perley J. Thibodeau March 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      My Louie/LuLu books are selling nicely in Australasia.
      Look them up on the internet sometime.

      • Stuart Baanstra March 31, 2013 at 6:10 am

        Perley, you sound more and more like a mature gay gentleman who drives around in a Rolls Royce.

        • Perley J. Thibodeau March 31, 2013 at 10:28 am

          I wish!
          There's a Foreign Auto Parts down the street and all the Bentleys, Rolls' Jaguars etc. that used to clog the street and the garage for maintenance repairs have disappeared in the past couple of years.
          Joe, the Asian owner and his legal Mexican workers just shrug their shoulders when I ask where they went to.
          I don't know.
          I do know that my books are on sale in every financially depressed country in the world.
          Including the United States.

          • Stuart Baanstra March 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm

            Well Perley, you're quite the entrepreneur! Will you be publishing Quinn's biography when it goes online?

          • Perley J. Thibodeau April 1, 2013 at 2:48 am

            My next Louie/LuLu book, Murder Amongst Friends will be out within the next two weeks.
            It's now on Kindle.
            I'm just now finishing up my book about volunteering for the police in the Central Park Ramble for twenty years.
            And then I'm doing a Louie/LuLu murder mystery based on current city politics.
            That should take care of the outgoing politicians for years to come.


  6. Stuart Baanstra April 1, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Ooh Perley, you couldn't do one on Tony Abbott? He's to be Australia's next Prime Minister and one I'm sure is gay!

    • Perley J. Thibodeau April 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Cardinal Dolan says Jesus loves gays and he loves him, too.
      He doesn't have to try telling us about himself as we all seem to know.

  7. Stuart Baanstra April 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Perl, talk about off-topic! From Quinn to Jesus? Where's the link?

  8. Stuart Baanstra April 2, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Well, if clothes maketh the man, I'd say Quinn's dressed by Prada!

    • Perley J. Thibodeau April 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Quinn told the newspapers that she bought a cheesy looking red coat at Bloomingdales.
      Most of us can't afford Bloomingdales.
      And she couldn't either until she got her sticky paws into the city treasury.

      • Stuart Baanstra April 7, 2013 at 4:04 am

        Perley, we're not really equal unless an elected married gay city official is embroiled in a sex scandal. Nothing like a "cheesy looking red coat" to get the ball rolling!

  9. Stuart Baanstra April 7, 2013 at 6:08 am

    I reckon Quinn would be better at home, not in City Hall, but in a Bears' Club!

  10. coventrywest July 29, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I didn't get the point right. What is the connection of over pay sick leave in relation to the gay rights? Something is faulty in here.

  11. Edz August 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    She was encircled by a dozens of council members, as well as a minimum of 2 UN agency opposed the first bill, and labor leaders UN agency had advocated for the bill since it had been introduced regarding 3 years agone.


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