Rabbis Pressure Christine Quinn Over Sick Leave

New York Mayoral Hopeful Opposes Business Requirement

Mayoral Wannabe: In what could be early jockeying for the 2013 New York mayoral race, liberal rabbis are pushing Christine Quinn to back a bill that would force most businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees.
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Mayoral Wannabe: In what could be early jockeying for the 2013 New York mayoral race, liberal rabbis are pushing Christine Quinn to back a bill that would force most businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 25, 2012.
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Dozens of prominent liberal New York City rabbis are demanding that 2013 mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn approve a bill that would require city businesses to provide employees with paid sick days.

Members of the City Council overwhelmingly support the bill, as do a handful of other potential mayoral candidates. Quinn, however, the speaker of the City Council, opposes the legislation, and has so far blocked it from coming to a vote.

The Democratic mayoral primary is nine months away, and the city’s well-heeled liberal Jewish constituency is still without an obvious candidate. According to some observers, Quinn’s next move on paid sick leave could play a role in determining whether or not they wind up backing her.

“The progressive Jewish community, with its deep, longtime narrative of social justice and aggressive fairness, is in no way cemented to Speaker Quinn,” said Michael Tobman, a New York City-based political consultant.

The letter, signed by forty rabbis, asks Quinn to pass a bill called the Paid Sick Time Act, Intro 97. That bill is still being revised, but would require most New York City businesses to provide a handful of paid sick days each year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also opposes the measure. Supporters believe they have enough support in the City Council to override a potential mayoral veto.

Similar legislation has passed in recent years in Connecticut and San Francisco. The New York City bill was first introduced in the City Council in 2010.

Signatories to the rabbis’ letter include clergy from Central Synagogue; a large Reform congregation on the Upper East Side, from Congregation Rodef Sholom; a large Reform congregation on the Upper West Side, and from Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, a large Conservative congregation on the Upper West Side. Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, an activist group, organized the letter.


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