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Quinn Won't Support Paid Sick Leave Bill

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TWC News: Quinn Won't Support Paid Sick Leave Bill
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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Thursday she will not back a controversial paid-sick leave bill, which will essentially kill the measure. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

After a year of deliberation, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has decided to shelve a controversial paid sick leave bill -- a move that, in some respects, puts her at odds with herself.

"I've been torn between a policy goal that I share and support, and real concerns about struggling businesses in a fragile economy," Quinn said.

Quinn insists the burden the bill would have placed on small businesses is the main reason she decided to come out against the legislation, which has wide support among Council members and the Working Families Party.

The bill would have forced businesses, depending on their size, to provide between five and nine sick days to employees each year. Quinn says the mandate would have cost businesses between $700 and $1,200 per employee.

Currently, 1.3 million workers in the city don't get paid when they call out sick.

"It means they will have to continue choosing between going to work ill and getting paid or staying home with a sick child or getting paid," said Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party.

Supporters say they had hoped for a compromise. There had been talk of scaling back the bill and coming up with other solutions, like exempting businesses that employee workers who are paid mostly in tips.

"I believe that she should have listened more carefully to some of the compromises that we were making and they would have made sense for the business community and for the workers," said the bill's sponsor, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer.

Quinn's move earned her praise from business groups like the State Restaurant Association, which said now is not the time to place burdens on small businesses. But there was also blistering criticism from groups, like the New York State Paid Leave Coalition, which called Quinn's decision a quote stunning abandonment of working mothers and parents.

The groups that are criticizing Quinn had once been supporters, and her decision to oppose the legislation could come back to haunt her in a Democratic primary if she runs for mayor in 2013.

Quinn, however, insists she's not thinking about politics.

As for where the bill stands now, Quinn says she will meet with supporters every two months to gauge whether the economy is improving enough to move the measure forward.

While unlikely, the City Council could still force a vote on the bill.

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