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Majority Leader Catherine Borgia Introduces Earned Sick Leave Bill to Help Thousands of Westchester Workers

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(WHITE PLAINS, NY) Standing in solidarity with dozens of union brothers and sisters and many of her Democratic Colleagues, Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) rolled out a proposed Earned Sick Leave law for Westchester County on Monday, March 27, 2017. The newly offered policy states that all employees shall accrue a minimum of 1 hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Paid sick leave can be used for both physical and mental illness. It can also be used if an employee needs to take care of a sick family member.


Colleagues standing with Majority Leader Borgia were Majority Whip Alfreda Williams (D-Greenbugh), Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), and Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye), who also is also a small business owner in Westchester County.


“In Westchester, 123,000 workers lack access to sick leave and that is unacceptable. This is a policy which is both business friendly and worker friendly by allowing enhanced ability for workers to care for their and their loved one’s health while also resulting in lower employee turnover.  After working with TWU Local 100, Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body AFL-CIO, 32BJ SEIU, A Better Balance, New York Working Families, and countless other organizations and advocates, I am proud of the legislation we have crafted for the working people of Westchester County,” said Borgia.


“It’s outrageous that hard working men and women in the wealthiest country on Earth are forced to choose between working while sick or feeding their families,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said. “It’s inherently unfair - and a public health risk for everyone. This legislation will fix this injustice.” TWU Local 100 represents 42,000 men and women in the transit industry, including subway and bus workers in NYC, Liberty Lines and school bus workers in Westchester County.

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"All of our members from the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body are honored to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from the Transit Workers Union. These are the men and women that we depend on to get our children and all of our love ones transported safely. I feel strongly about the family paid sick leave and feel it is long overdue. It has been proven in several studies that it is an improvement to these individuals and companies that they represent," said Thomas Carey, President, Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body AFL-CIO, UA 21.


This benefit, that would make a huge difference in the lives of Westchester residents, currently does not reach 54% of workers in service occupations and 47% in transportation and manufacturing careers. This includes food service workers, bus operators, and home health aides, three groups of workers which can very easily, and rapidly, spread disease.


“Our union members have bargained hard over the years to win a sensible sick day policy on the job,” said John Santos, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU Hudson Valley District. “Now, we are joining our brothers and sisters at workplaces across Westchester to stand up for this basic, crucial benefit. Here in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, it’s a disgrace that workers don’t have the right to take time off for themselves and their family members in times of illness and emergency.”


“As nurses, we know that taking proper care of an illness is the best way to prevent it from spreading to those around you. Furthermore when caring for others as we do, it is important to know when you will be doing more harm than good. This legislation gives workers peace of mind to know that they do not have to choose between a day’s pay, which they may be dependent on, and bringing whatever sickness they have to work where they will be caring for others,” said Tara Martin, State Political Director, New York State Nurses Association


This bill has further provisions for businesses with 5 employees or less that allows workers to accrue unpaid - but job protected - sick time. This grants workers employment security should they need to care for a sick child or loved one. Once these laws are enacted they are popular with both business and workers.  Businesses in New York City look very positively on the law now that it has been in effect for several years. 86% of employers surveyed in New York City said they had a positive view of the law and 98% said they had seen no instances of abuse.


A Better Balance, an organization which assisted in the drafting of this legislation as well as other such laws that have been enacted across the country, applauds the introduction of a Paid Sick Time bill in Westchester.  “The paid sick days law that went into effect in 2014 in New York City has been nothing but positive for workers and employers and that will be the case in Westchester as well.  We look forward to celebrating its passage,” said Sherry Leiwant, A Better Balance


"We are proud to stand with TWU Local 100 President John Samuelson, and Education Director Nick Bedell, Westchester County Legislators, TWU workers, supporters and organizations advocating on their behalf, such as A Better Balance, to support the introduction of the Earned Sick Day Bill. Earned sick time is vitally important to the nearly 36 percent of workers in Westchester County that lack any earned sick time when they fall ill. Over forty cities, counties, and states, including New York City, have established earned sick time standards, resulting in better individual and public health, and greater financial security for families, businesses, and the community. We hope Westchester County will soon join the growing movement of municipalities and states advocating for earned paid sick time, a common sense measure that supports local workers," said Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition.


“It is about time we treat all workers in Westchester County with the dignity and respect they deserve,” concluded Borgia.

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