15 women politicians rally for sick days/ thank you Gloria Steinem

You probably didn’t know that more than one million New York City workers, mostly low wage workers, lack paid sick days, with the largest concentrations in food service, retail and health care. Or that nearly one in four workers reports that they have lost a job or were told they would lose their job if they took time off due to personal or family illness. Or that half of working moms miss work when a child gets sick. Of these, half lose pay when they take this time off.

But it’s because of injustices like these that New Yorkers, and everyone, really, needs paid sick days. And that’s why New Yorkers are demanding a a paid sick days bill, which would allow workers to earn five paid sick days a year, which employees could use to recover from illness, seek preventive care, or care for an ill family member. The bill has support from the majority of the City Council.

Sadly, Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, who could very well become New York’s first female and out LGBT mayor, has blocked the bill from being voted on for over 1,000 days. This is why Gloria Steinem, a former Quinn supporter, said she would withdraw her support for Quinn’s mayoral run if the Speaker refused to let the paid sick days bill get to the floor: “Making life fairer for all women seems more important than breaking a barrier for one woman,” said Steinem.

And today, Fifteen women elected officials gathered at City Hall today to demand that Quinn finally allow a vote on the bill requiring employers to give their workers sick leave.

Here are some of their reasons.

Rep. Yvette Clarke:

“The health of our economy depends on the health of our families. Despite widespread support from labor groups and legislators, the Paid Sick Leave Act is at a standstill. After one of the worst flu seasons in history, I urge City Council Speaker Quinn to bring this bill to a vote. No one should be forced to choose between their health and job security. The welfare of our employees must always remain a priority.”

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney:
“The facts are enough to make you sick: America is the only industrialized nation in the world that fails to guarantee paid sick leave. That’s why I’ve long advocated guaranteeing American workers paid sick days on the federal level. But right here in New York, we can bypass congressional gridlock, enact paid sick leave, and make the Big Apple a national leader in protecting the health of our citizens and guaranteeing elementary fairness to all the working women and men who make our great city tick. I urge the City Council to pass the paid sick leave legislation!”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez:
“The time to pass the Sick Paid Act in New York City is long overdue. This issue of social justice and public health must be addressed immediately.”

State Senator Liz Krueger:
“Democracy works best when we have time to broadly discuss the issues. New York City has spent nearly four years seriously discussing paid sick leave.  Labor, business leaders, and elected officials at every level have made their cases — and their choices. With respect to my friend Speaker Quinn, it’s time to let our city’s democratic system do its job, have the Council vote on this bill and take this step forward together.”

Assemblymember Vanessa Gibson:
“Paid Sick Leave is a fundamental issue of economic justice that goes to the heart of the core values that new Yorkers throughout our City share. Passage of this legislation is crucial to recognizing the needs of New York’s working families and should be a top priority of the 2013 public policy agenda.”

Assemblymember Gabriella Rosa:
“As a long-time working mother that has experienced the delicate balancing act that occurs between raising children, managing a household, and working full-time, I cannot advocate strongly enough for the passage of the Paid Sick Time Act. It is long past time that our society supports all working families as they struggle to raise children, advance their careers, and contribute to their local workforce. I stand strongly with my fellow elected officials, workers, and activists as together we call upon the City Council to pass this important piece of legislation.”

Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal:
“A healthy city and a healthy economy need healthy workers and healthy families. For anyone who didn’t already know, the recent flu outbreak should have convinced them: New York needs paid sick days. It’s long past time for a vote on the paid sick days bill, which no doubt would pass with votes to spare.”

Assemblymember Nily Rozic:
“For far too many New Yorkers, a day home from work means a day without pay–a choice they shouldn’t have to make. We need common sense work-family policies so that no one has to decide between being a good worker and a good family member.”

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas:
“I am proud to offer my support for the Paid Sick Time Act. No one should ever risk forgoing necessary medical treatment out of fear of losing their job or forfeiting essential income. The health of New York workers must come first, and job security should not hang in the balance of physical well-being.”

Councilmember Gale Brewer, lead sponsor of the paid sick days bill:
“I thank each of the women who have joined in support of our paid sick leave bill, and who time and again have stood with us or lent their name in print because they believe deeply that this bill must become law. It is the product of a long effort to address a basic need of the city’s working people. Speaker Quinn has long said that she believes in the goal of paid sick days, and now is the time to demonstrate it by showing her support for a fair vote on the bill in committee and at the Council.” 

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley:
“As a mother of two and an elected official I know how important it is to have paid sick days. For a healthy city we must move forward and pass this bill.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras:
“Since its introduction in 2010, I have been a supporter of the Paid Sick Days Act. In my district, there is an overwhelming majority of residents that do not have paid sick days – many of whom are low-income female and immigrant workers. If passed, the act would not only help protect these workers from being exploited on the job, but more importantly, this legislation will set a precedent that our great city cares for its own people. Working mothers who are struggling to make ends meet should not be forced to face the unthinkable task of having to choose between their health and the health of their children or risk losing their job and family income. A vote for paid sick days is a win for the economy, a win for the people and a win for small business owners, who only stand to gain from the productivity a well-rested and healthier staff will bring.”

Councilmember Jessica Lapin:
“No parent should have to choose between tending to a sick child and the job their family depends on. That’s why Paid Sick Leave is so important.”

Councilmember Annabel Palma:
“I am proud to stand with these women in support of the Paid Sick Time Act.  Simply, paid sick leave makes sense – as matter of public health, business principle, and fairness.”

Former Councilmember Una Clarke:
“Women have become the engine that drives the economy, from the women who care for our children, our elderly, our food industry, our clothing, and clerical, health care or corporate offices. Women can no longer be undervalued, or marginalized. Equal pay now.”

Let’s urge Quinn to do the right thing for workers, for women, for everyone. Because when workers are forced to come to work sick, we all suffer.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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