By Eric Williams

Westchester Workers and Community Leaders Applaud Passage of Earned Sick Leave Bill

Dozens of organizations attend passage of legislation that would support some 123,000 local workers

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — On Monday evening, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed the Westchester Earned Paid Sick Leave bill, which provides up to five paid sick days per year to workers who lack this basic benefit. The bill now moves forward to the desk of Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

“Over 30 labor unions and community organizations came together to support this bill,” said Joe Mayhew, Vice President of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body and a leader in the Community/Labor Coalition for Employee Earned Sick Time. “We are all thrilled by its historic passage. We offer our thanks to the County Board of Legislators for their support and especially to bill sponsor Catherine Borgia for three years of hard work to win its passage. Her leadership and compassion has led us to realize legislation that will finally serve the 36% of Westchester workers who lack paid sick leave.”

“Having paid sick days is a fundamental benefit that everyone deserves,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU “It helps workers make a speedy recovery, provides for the support of their families, and protects the health of fellow workers and the employers’ clients. Unions like ours are proud to make it a cornerstone of our agreements with employers, and we are proud that Westchester now joins New York City in providing this protection as a basic right.”

“My story is the story of thousands of us who don’t have a voice,” said Jasmine Dillard of Community Voices Heard, who used to come to work sick while caring for elderly patients as a home health aide. “With the passage of this bill, over a third of the workers in Westchester can finally take care of themselves without losing the pay they dearly need.”

“In total, it is estimated that over 100,000 workers do not have access to sick pay in Westchester and over 30,000 are women, said Myra Saul, a representative of Westchester for Change. “Legislation of this type is in effect in many localities across the country, including New York City. Nowhere have these laws been cited as an impediment to conducting business by local business owners. We’re proud that Westchester County will now join their ranks.”

“This bill is the right medicine at the right time,” said Sarah Leberstein, Staff Attorney/Workplace Justice Coordinator at Make the Road New York. “Make the Road New York’s clients have often suffered significant hardship because of a lack of paid sick leave protections. The bill’s passage must be taken seriously by employers who refuse to let workers take sick time, withhold pay when their workers must miss work, or require them to find replacement workers. All these abuses must come to an end.”

“We applaud Westchester and in particular the tireless work of paid sick time sponsor Catherine Borgia for ensuring that the workers of Westchester County will have access to paid sick time when they or a family member is sick. This important law will not only ensure that Westchester workers can take care of themselves and their families but also will protect the public health of the County.  Westchester’s passage of paid sick time brings the number of localities requiring paid sick time to 35 along with 11 states. In New York state, Westchester joins New York City in enacting this important policy and we are hopeful that soon all workers in New York state will have access to paid sick time,” said Sherry Leiwant, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance.

“The new Earned Sick Leave law is critical for the health and well-being of Westchester, including the 123,000 workers do not have access to any sick time. We want to thank the members of the Community/Labor Coalition for Employee Earned Sick Time for their tireless advocacy on this issue, Legislator Catherine Borgia for her persistence and commitment to pass this critical protection for hard working employees in Westchester County, and all members of the Legislature for caring about the economic security and health of its workforce, “ said Donna Dolan, Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition.

“This common-sense bill will make Westchester a healthier place to work and live,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said.

“It’s not just that Paid Sick Time is an economic issue; it’s also a moral issue for our community,” said Keven Sheil, President of the Communications Workers of America Local 1103. “The Westchester County Board of Legislators has done the right thing all around.”

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Press Contact: Eric Williams   

347-620-7190, ericwilliams.nypfli@gmail.com