Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ulrich Pens Piece Supporting Employer Paid Sick-leave Legislation

Eric Ulrich, the tri-sexual councilman from Howard Beach is sponsoring what he calls a “tripartisan” bill that would ultimately strangle small business owners in this already suffocating economy. Eric Ulbitch once again proves that his political expediency is more important than the future of this great city. Eric Ulrich wants to break the backbone of our economy by imposing yet another financial burden on small businesses.

Eric Ulrich is so out of touch with reality because he has no idea what it means to work. At twenty something years old he has never had a real job and he stepped in political dog shit by winning a special election that a bunch of morons on the ballot.

Now my fellow neighbors in Howard Beach have to suffer through the next 4 years as this insufferable wet behind the ears egomaniac destroys our community, small business owners and our great city.

The Urban Elephants

Ulrich Pens Piece Supporting Employer Paid Sick-leave Legislation
Posted by: The Editors in Untagged on Dec 11, 2009

Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich is sponsoring a bill that would make paid sick days a basic workplace standard for all employers - called the Paid Sick Time Act. Here's a link to one of the bills strongest supporters - the Working Families Party...

New York City’s campaign to make paid sick days a basic workplace standard continues to gain steam. In an op-ed in yesterday’s Daily News, Councilmember Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) calls paid sick days “tripartisan” legislation that “unites New Yorkers from all walks of life.”

December 8, 2009
Bill to help out ill workers is good for everyone’s health
By Eric Ulrich

As local and national public health officials work overtime to stop the spread of swine flu, they have made sure to highlight common sense measures the public can take to do its part. Almost always, near the top of the list is simply avoiding people you might infect when you are sick: staying home from work and keeping sick children out of school.

But for nearly half of all working New Yorkers, that common sense suggestion may not be an option. A report from the Community Service Society and A Better Balance estimates that 48% of New Yorkers - more than 1.65 million people - have no paid sick days where they work. Low-income New Yorkers suffer the most; fully two-thirds (66%) cannot take a paid day off when they get sick. Nor can an astounding 72% of Latino low wage workers.

For these working families, the next cold or flu means a tough choice between their health (and the health of their co-workers) and the paycheck they need to make ends meet.

...the piece goes on...

Worse, the report suggests that access to paid sick days is on the decline. As recently as 2004, 69% of “near-poor” workers - those just above the poverty line ($22,050 for a family of four) - had paid sick leave where they worked. Today, just 33% of near-poor workers report having paid sick days. It appears that the recession is not only making jobs harder to find; the jobs that do exist are increasingly less likely to provide adequate benefits.

That thousands of working families live in fear that getting sick could be financially ruinous is troubling enough. But the consequences of lacking paid sick days may extend far beyond individual workers and their families.

New York City has sensibly made it a policy to close public schools only as a last resort in the event of a swine flu outbreak. But key to the success of the city’s swine flu plan is the ability of parents to follow the city’s own advice by keeping flu-stricken children at home where they cannot infect their classmates and teachers.

For many working parents, that plan may sound doomed to fail. According to the report, 54% of public school parents (and 65% of low-income public school parents) lack paid sick days where they work. Unsurprisingly, 30% of low-income parents report having sent a sick child to school.

There is also evidence that the lack of paid sick days may even be contributing to our broken health care system, where preventable illnesses go untreated and the underserved choke our emergency rooms and hospitals.

Twenty-two percent of low-income workers who have health insurance report visiting an emergency room simply because they could not take time off work for a doctor’s appointment.

The statistics are depressing, but the city can and should take action. The Paid Sick Time bill currently under consideration by the City Council would allow all working New Yorkers to earn paid sick leave on the job. With 39 Council co-sponsors, the bipartisan bill is a common sense way to help working families and protect the public health. (Actually, as a major priority of the progressive Working Families Party, it’s a tripartisan bill.)

New York would not be the first city to implement a universal paid sick days law. San Francisco and Washington have made paid sick leave a basic workplace standard, and more than 15 states are considering similar measures.

It is an idea that unites New Yorkers from all walks of life - from single parents to labor leaders and business groups, liberals and conservatives, advocates for women and advocates for family values. It is time to put paid sick days at the top of the agenda.

...the legislation, specifically, would force most employers to offer 72 hours of paid sick leave - that's nearly two weeks of full compensation. And the definition of "being sick" includes a variety of circumstances, many of which have nothing to do with employee illness. Here's a few specifics of the bill in question...

The legislation would ensure that employers allow a certain amount of temporary time off from work to take care of their own health needs or the health needs of members of their families or to deal with health and safety issues arising from domestic or sexual violence.
Subdivision c of section 22-507 would provide for the accrual of paid sick time. Paragraph one of such subdivision would declare that all employees have the right to paid sick time as provided in this section. Paragraph (2) of such subdivision would require that all employers provide a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every thirty hours worked by an employee. Under this provision, employers would not be required to provide more than seventy-two hours of sick time for an employee in a calendar year.
The legislation would benefit society by providing time for domestic violence victims to go to court or to relocate to safety and would allow such victims to protect themselves.
...supporters of the bill, like Mr. Ulrich and the Left-wing, union-based Working Families Party, claim that it would have a positive effect on the health of NYC overall. The main example they cite is that because parents have no paid sick days, they are forced to send their sick children to school in direct conflict to good public health policy and the recommendations of the Department of Education. If these workers had paid sick days, they could stay home and take care of their sick kids and avoid the risk of infecting other children, which could spread the illness widely.

Oddly, there is a strong reference to "domestic violence" cases and "domestic partners" being covered, which seems misplaced in a bill to protect sick workers. There are many "good" reasons why a worker could miss time on the job. Why specifically cite just illness and domestic violence in this bill? It seems that there is the Pandora's box being opened with this legislation, as many interest groups will line up claiming that employers should offer "sick time" for a number of difficult situations for employees - all potentially deserving of paid time off.

As well, the entire burden of this "tripartisan" piece of legislation, as stated by Councilmember Ulrich, will fall on employers. If this is such a good idea, why not have workers themselves pay into the system to fund this new employment benefit? When NYC is already the one of the most un-competitive places to be an employer, how can it make sense for the Council to pass another unfunded employment mandate on the business community?

What NYC needs now are jobs. Additional mandated employee benefits, even if they can be argued as beneficial to the city at-large, will do nothing to increase employment in NYC and, to the contrary, this measure forces employers to think long and hard about adding additional workers to their rolls.

Lastly, this position seems odd for a self-proclaimed "conservative" to writing about in the Daily News. If the average worker and employer can't count on Republican representatives to fight for their concerns, who do they have to turn to? In many ways, this piece of legislation could have been just as easily sponsored by Councilmember Leticia James as the GOP's Ulrich. Do UE readers think this is the direction the Republican Party should be going?

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