Sunday, October 7, 2012


Quinn quandary over sick-leave bill  

Mayoral hopeful trying not to alienate potential voters

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 NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Thursday, October 4, 2012. He spoke at a rally on the steps of City Hall calling on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on the Paid Sick Days bill. The rally delivered petitions with 50,000 signatures to Quinn. (Jefferson Siegel/for NY Daily News)

PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio speaks at rally on steps of City Hall calling on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on the paid sick-days bill.

IT’S THE front-runner versus everyone else.
In the battle over whether the city should force companies to give their workers paid sick days, some of the mayoral candidates are ganging up on the early campaign leader.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has been dragging her feet on whether to allow a Council vote on a controversial paid sick-leave bill.
She faces intense pressure from both sides of the issue — especially in the week since a Council member proposed a weaker version of the bill that reduced the number of required sick days from nine to five.
On one side of the debate is nearly every Democrat in Council — 37 of Quinn’s 45 fellow Dems have signed the bill — and the powerful labor unions that will have great sway in the Democratic primary next year.
On the other side are business interests who say the bill’s a job killer. They include some of Quinn’s top campaign contributors.
A Daily News analysis of Quinn’s campaign fund-raising records found that business owners and others who signed a letter urging Quinn to stop the bill have given or raised more than $250,000 for her campaign.
As Quinn contemplates how to proceed without alienating people she needs to win next year, her opponents in the race seem to have spotted an opening.
In the last week alone, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio took to the pulpit of an influential Brooklyn church to ramp up the pressure on Quinn to pass the bill.
And de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer headlined a rally of stroller-pushing parents at City Hall Thursday urging Quinn to back the compromise bill.
It would require businesses to give employees five sick days a year, but allow them to swap shifts instead of taking a sick day. It also excludes seasonal workers.
“How on Earth has this bill not been brought to the floor?” de Blasio said. “It’s not acceptable. It’s not democracy.”
Stringer brought his 9-month-old son Max to make the case that working parents should have the right to a day off to care for sick kids. “We can compromise, and a compromise is before us,” he said.
The two other major Democrats in the race — City Controller John Liu and former Controller Bill Thompson — are also both backing the bill, and that’s a wise move, said Baruch College Public Affairs Dean David Birdsell.
“There’s a lot of hand-wringing now about what happens to New York when a mayor perceived to be and credibly is pro-business is replaced by a Democrat who doesn’t have the same record,” Birdsell said.
Quinn announced two years ago that she was holding off on the bill to avoid affecting jobs during tough fiscal times and that hasn’t changed, her spokeswoman said.
“As the Speaker has stated before, given the current economic reality, now is not the right time for this policy,” said spokeswoman Maria Alvarado.
edurkin@nydailynews.com
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