NYC/Long Island

On July 18, hundreds of women leaders, working mothers, and business owners gathered on New York City Hall steps to announce the launch of Women for Paid Sick Days, a major new initiative to educate and mobilize women voters around the paid sick days bill in the City Council, a popular and urgent issue of particular concern to working women.

This new effort signals the bill will be a priority for coalition members in the fall session. At the launch, advocates called on Council Speaker Christine Quinn to bring the paid sick days bill, which currently has a veto-proof majority of Council support, to a fair floor vote.

Women for Paid Sick Days is led by six prominent NYC women leaders, who together have begun to raise their voices on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New York women without access to paid sick days. The six co-chairs are:

• 1199SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castaneda

• Author and activist Gloria Steinem;

• Philanthropist and activist Jennifer Buffet;

• Founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance Ai-jen Poo;

• CEO of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Marjorie Hill;

• Executive Director of Make the Road NY Ana Maria Archila

“The lack of access to paid sick leave is a threat to our public health,” Castaneda told the press conference.” If we do not address this problem and adopt Paid Sick Leave legislation, it will be more costly to the business community and to our city.”

“The paid sick days bill is common sense and long overdue. It would make sure New Yorkers could earn paid sick days and would prevent workers from losing their job just because they or their children get sick,” said Gloria Steinem in an email sent to more than 100,000 New Yorkers.

The coalition is calling on the City Council to pass the Paid Sick Time Act (Int 0097-2012), which would ensure that 1.5 million New Yorkers without access to paid sick days are able to take time off when they or their families are ill. Thirty-seven Council Members are currently signed on to the bill as co-sponsors, a veto-proof majority. Recent amendments have led to strong support among small business owners, small business associations, and several chambers of commerce.

More than 1 million New Yorkers, many of them women in low-wage jobs, do not have access to a single paid sick day to care for their own health or that of a sick child. Low-income working moms are the most likely to lack paid sick time (70%), and two out of three single moms report frequently worrying that their income will not pay the bills. Polling data from 2011 found that 77% of Democratic women voters favor a law requiring paid sick days like the one now before the City Council, and 64% of Democratic women voters – nearly two-thirds – say they are less likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who opposes paid sick days.

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