New York City is becoming the most populous place in the United States to make businesses provide workers with paid sick time, after lawmakers overrode a mayoral veto early Thursday to pass a law expected to affect more than 1 million workers.
With the vote, the city joined Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Connecticut in requiring the benefit for at least some workers. Similar measures have failed in some other places, including Milwaukee, Denver and Philadelphia.
Supporters see the New York measure as a pace-setter, although it has some significant limits and conditions, and they envision such laws becoming a national norm in coming years.
"The catalyst will have been the successful struggle we waged here in New York City," said Dan Cantor, the national executive director of the Working Families Party, which is among groups pushing the cause in Maryland, Oregon, Vermont and Washington states, among others.
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Advocates say workers shouldn't have to choose between their physical and financial health. And customers and colleagues shouldn't have to be exposed to employees who come to work sick, supporters add.
Camilo Montes is diabetic and has felt ill at times during his six years working at a Queens car wash, but he has stuck it out instead of going home because he doesn't get paid sick days, he said.
Because he's supporting himself and his mother in Veracruz, Mexico, "I can't afford to lose a day's salary," Montes, 46, said through a Spanish interpreter after paid sick leave supporters rallied outside City Hall Wednesday.
Burden to Small Businesses?
But critics say that the government should leave sick day arrangements to workers and bosses and that the requirement will burden small businesses.