Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
The Politics of Paid Sick Leave Deal
Friday, March 29, 2013
There's a deal at City Hall on paid sick leave legislation, and it has the potential to up-end the dynamic in the Democratic primary race for mayor. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was regularly the target of her opponents for blocking a vote on a bill for years, and Friday, she stood at City Hall to take credit for the compromise bill that is now likely to pass.
It was a stark contrast to the scene there one week ago. Last Friday, sick leave advocates and opponents spent the entire day testifying for and against the old paid sick leave bill. Many of those same people came back this week to praise the compromise.
Quinn insisted the announcement wasn't about politics: "This is about policy," she said.
But in the heat of the mayoral race, this new policy comes with political consequences.
The one who's most hurt politically by is Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. He's been consistently out front on paid sick leave. And as all his allies praised the bill today, he stood alone on the steps of City Hall after the announcement saying the bill didn't go far enough.
"On the final analysis, this bill leaves out too many New Yorkers and takes to long to reach even those it does include, and that's wrong," said DeBlasio.
But his opposition rings hollow to some.
"I think Bill de Blasio is on a quest for relevance and I think it's unfortunate," said City Council member James Gennaro of Queens. He had been opposed to the bill, writing two critical editorials against the legislation. But Gennaro said the new bill is strikes the right balance between business and worker interest.
Comptroller John Liu and former Comptroller Bill Thompson both released statements applauding the measure, though Liu did not mention Quinn by name and Thompson took credit for the phase-in portion of the plan, which was something he had suggested a last week's hearing.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he will veto the bill. But Quinn is known for only introducing bills to the Council that will pass with a veto-proof majority.
"When Mike Bloomberg and I agree, we'll agree. When we disagree, we'll disagree agreeably. And that's governing," Quinn said.