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New York’s Largest Healthcare Union Calls for Passage of Strong Paid Sick Day Legislation Now

Law must cover employers with five or more workers to protect public health and address the needs

of the 1 million New Yorkers who do not have paid sick days

New York City- The largest healthcare union in New York, 1199SEIU, is calling on the City Council to quickly pass and implement strong legislation that will cover the vast majority of working New Yorkers without paid sick days. Caregivers have become concerned that lobbying by business interests might water down the legislation and weaken the original language that covers employers with five or more workers.

“The members of our union care for patients with the flu and other communicable diseases, so we know how important paid sick days are for the public health of New York,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU. “The City Council needs to stand strong against the business lobbyists and do what’s right for working people. Council members don’t get penalized if they stay home sick, they don’t live with the fear of losing their pay or their jobs if they care for a sick child. What’s good enough for the City Council is good enough for all New Yorkers. This law needs to cover employers with five or more workers, anything else would exclude hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and is unacceptable. We need strong paid sick day legislation that covers the vast majority of working people, and we need it now.”

The healthcare workers of 1199SEIU have strongly supported the paid sick day legislation because it is important for the financial security of working families, protects public health, makes the healthcare system more efficient and is good for the overall economy of New York. Studies have shown that when workers can stay home to recover from an illness, they are more productive in the long run and do not infect co-workers. It is particularly important that workers in the service industries – who prepare our food and care for our children – can take sick days so they do not spread communicable diseases. During the Swine Flu epidemic, 8 million Americans went to work while infected, thereby infecting another 7 million. Paid sick days would also make the New York City healthcare system more efficient by preventing 48,000 emergency room visits annually, saving nearly $40 million in healthcare costs.

“I see the fear that patients have of losing their jobs when they come into the Emergency Room,” said Lorna Bryan, a medical assistant in at Roosevelt Hospital. “But if these patients were allowed to stay home, recover and see a primary care doctor, they wouldn’t have to use expensive emergency services.”

“My entire church congregation in Flatbush is in support of strong paid sick day legislation because we know this is one of the most important issues facing our city,” said Millanease Williams, who has been a patient care associate at Beth Israel Medical Center for 26 years. “This is especially important for working single parents who must stay home with a sick child.”

“The bottom line is that all working people should be able to take a sick day without fear of losing their jobs,” said Laurie Etter, a registered nurse at Beth Israel Medical Center. “We have treated people with Swine Flu and other communicable diseases, and these patients should be able to stay home and recover – just as the City Council can – so we can prevent them from infecting others and protect the public health of our city.”


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New York and the nation. We represent over 350,000 nurses and caregivers throughout Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and quality jobs for a

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