NEWSFLASH: NYC Approves Paid Sick Leave!

Back in April of this year, Ms. covered the passage of a bill that gave workers paid sick leave. However, it was vetoed on June 7 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Yesterday, though, lawmakers overrode Bloomberg’s veto with a staggering 47-4 vote. After a three-year struggle, the bill has finally become law.

The strength of this majority vote, and the size of NYC in general, instills hope in labor activists that other cities will soon follow suit. Even though paid sick leave legislation has not been passed at a national level, it is encouraging to see that it is happening locallyit’s been instituted in Portland, Ore., Seattle, San Francisco, Long Beach, Calif., Washington, D.C. and the state of Connecticut. The New York vote, Debra Ness from the National Partnership for Women and Families told the Washington Post, is

a huge pivotal step for the country. I believe that if we can show that it works in New York City, it just reinforces that you can make it work anywhere.

However, Mayor Bloomberg isn’t happy and hasn’t ruled out suing to block the law, believing that paying workers for five days sick leave a year will harm small businesses. But studies have shown no evidence of losses so far in Washington, D.C, San Francisco and Connecticut.

With NYC leading the way, paid sick leave legislation will hopefully spread through other cities across the country—and to the U.S. Congress. In a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the U.S. was found to be the only country out of 22 studied not to mandate paid sick leave. That leaves 40 percent of private sector workers, 80 percent of low-income workers and more than a third of women workers across this country unable to take time off work without losing pay or risking their jobs.

Photo of Mayor Michael Bloomberg by Wikimedia Commons user David Shankbone under license from Creative Commons 3.0


Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.