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Quinn nixes plan on paid sick leave

City Council Speaker kills bill, saying it would hurt small businesses; progressive groups criticize move as a political ploy for her mayoral aspirations

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cooled the debate over a sick leave bill on Thursday, effectively killing it before it came up for a vote.

Quinn — who is eyeing a mayoral run in 2013 — said the provision to require small companies offer five paid sick days annually and large ones provide nine would hurt small businesses “on the brink” in this economic downturn.

The bill was strongly criticized by the business community, including the Partnership for New York City. It was being pushed by left-leaning groups such as the Working Families Party, and Quinn’s opposition likely earned her enmity from what was once considered her base.

“Providing sick leave to working New Yorkers is a noble goal,” Quinn said. “But now is simply not the right time for a measure that threatens the survival of small businesses.”

The NYS Paid Sick Leave Coalition, a supporter of the bill, called Quinn’s move a “stunning abandonment of working mothers and parents and the progressive women who have supported her from day one."

Quinn said she carefully considered different viewpoints, from working parents who’ve been caught between caring for sick kids and getting a paycheck to business owners who worried the additional cost would topple them. She told reporters her political aspirations played no role in her decision, rather it was the concerns of the dry cleaners, bodega owners and other small businesses across the city.

But Dan Morris, of the Drum Major Institute progressive think tank said, “There is no hard evidence or independent data to support the claim that paid sick leave will harm small businesses.” He called it “unfortunate and sad” that “a longtime progressive on so many issues, has decided to cave in to pressure from business lobbyists and corporate leaders.”

Quinn said she would meet every two months with the bill’s sponsor Gale Brewer to review the economy’s temperature and discuss the bill.

 
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