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Paid Sick Leave Advocates Rally Women to Pressure Quinn

Monday, February 25, 2013

Supporters of a bill to require paid sick leave in New York City have a new tactic: framing it as a women's issue, and they think it's gaining traction to pressure mayoral hopeful Speaker Christine Quinn to bring the bill to a vote.

“We are here because we’re women, women who are active in the workforce,” Councilwoman Gale Brewer shouted on the steps of City Hall on Monday. She was surrounded by local female elected officials, including two New York Congresswomen.

Brewer is the lead sponsor of the bill to require employers with more than five employees to provide at least five sick days a year — for women and men. But bill supporters, including the Working Families Party, have lately focused on the bill’s potential impact on women to needle Quinn, who has courted the support of national women’s groups like Emily’s List for her mayoral bid.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s participation in the press conference underscored that tension. Maloney has supported paid sick leave legislation in Congress. She also hosted Quinn at her Washington home last month at an inauguration reception honoring women leaders.

Maloney said she's not sure who's she's supporting in the mayor's race, but she's let Quinn know this is a priority. 

“Oh, certainly she knows my position, and I’ve carried this at the federal level,” Maloney said.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez was more pointed. She said family-focused policies like this will be a key test for Quinn. 

“If you are a woman and you're running for mayor of New York City, this is an issue that impacts, disproportionately, working women, and so this is going to be a very difficult position for her,” Velazquez said.

Quinn set a March 22 public hearing last week. She said she supports the goal of the legislation, but not right now. “With the current state of the economy and so many businesses struggling to stay alive, I do not believe it would be wise to implement this policy, in this way, at this time,” Quinn said in a statement, repeating the position she has held for months. 

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