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Paid Sick Days for a Million More New Yorkers

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Taking a day off when you are sick. It is something that is easy to take for granted, but many low-wage New Yorkers have no paid sick days and even put their job at risk if they stay home sick without pay.

But soon that will be in the past. Today, I was honored to cast my vote on the floor of the New York City Council for the "Earned Sick Time Act," which will extend paid sick days to nearly one million more New Yorkers.

This law will make our city a fairer, more compassionate place to live and work.

Starting next year, the law guarantees five paid sick days per year to workers at all employers with 20 or more employees (extending to employers with at least 15 workers in the fall of 2015, and covering all franchises and chains from the start). It will also cover domestic workers like babysitters. And all other workers will have the right to unpaid sick days, so at least they don't get fired when they need to stay home sick. You can read the bill here, or a summary here.

A few days will make a difference for real people. New Yorkers like Emilio Palaguachi, who lost his job when he took a sick day. Or Martin Gonzalez, who had to choose between taking care of his health and his paycheck.

I'm proud to have been a small part of the big coalition that championed the paid sick days legislation in New York City over the past several years. Thank you to Council Member Gail Brewer, who tirelessly led the way on this issue in the City Council, to Speaker Christine Quinn, who reached a compromise to make this bill a law, and to my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus who made this our top priority during this legislative term.

The biggest thanks goes to the remarkable coalition of community groups (like Make the Road NY), women's groups (A Better Balance, and a special shout-out to Gloria Steinem), labor unions (including SEIU 32BJ and SEIU 1199), business leaders (like the NY Women's Chamber of Commerce), the Working Families Party, and grassroots New Yorkers - who said this progressive dream was possible and fought for the last three years to make it a reality. It was not an easy campaign - but today there is something very real to show for it.

This is turning out to be a progressive spring for New Yorkers. Speaker Quinn recently announced that the City Council will vote on two important police reform bills that will ban racial profiling and create an NYPD Inspector General to recommend improved departmental policies. To show your support for those bills, sign the petition here.

And we will keep pushing. If you haven't already, check out the New York City Council Progressive Caucus' agenda for the next City Council, "13 Bold Ideas for NYC 2013." Guaranteed paid sick days was one of those ideas, but we have a lot more work to do, together.