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First Lady, Public Advocate Rally With Workers to Call For Passage of Paid Personal Time

September 9, 2019

Advocates call for passage of historic legislation to make New York City the first in nation to guarantee 10 days paid time off

NEW YORK—First Lady Chirlane McCray, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson, and Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas were joined by workers from a diverse group of labor organizations today to call for the passage of Paid Personal Time. No state or city in the nation currently guarantees paid personal time off for private sector employees, and passing this historic legislation would continuing to elevate New York City as a leader in the fight for workers’ rights. Attendees included the 32BJ SEIU Workers’ Justice Project, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Nail Salon Workers Association, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, and faith and local leaders.

“Nearly one million New Yorkers are forced to choose between a paycheck and taking a much needed break to care for themselves and their families. That’s simply unacceptable,” said Mayor de Blasio. “It’s long past due that hardworking New Yorkers get the days off they’ve earned. Workers, advocates, and I all agree: it’s time to pass paid personal time.”

“Too many New Yorkers are in an impossible struggle for time, often having to choose between their paycheck and their well-being,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Paid personal time is a fundamental right and is an essential component of a happy, healthy life. For the first time, it is within our reach. We urge the City Council to continue standing up for working people by passing this legislation into law.”

“It's critical that we acknowledge the reality that working people are too often overworked and undervalued,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn't guarantee some level of paid leave. After five years since I introduced this legislationand the many decades of tireless advocacy by working people that led us to this pointwe must work with all stakeholders to seize this moment and create transformational change so all New Yorkers have a well-deserved break.”

“The absence of paid time off doesn’t just affect the worker, it affects the children, and the health and well-being of the whole community,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “The fight for paid time off is part of our pursuit for a true democracy, with its promise of justice and opportunity for all. If we want the most vulnerable people of this City to do well, and the City as a whole to advance, we can’t balance our books on the backs of those who are struggling the most.”

“It’s time we protect workers and pass paid personal time to give New Yorkers the break they need and deserve,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “A million people do not have one single day to take for themselves and even more can have their paid personal time stripped away at any moment. I have been fortunate enough to have paid personal time for my last four jobs but for many years when I worked in retail, food service, and as a nanny, I didn’t have any time. I know we can work with businesses to ensure smooth implementation and be the city that can show our country that our workers can have this leave and businesses can continue to thrive.”

Paid Personal Time legislation, sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, would mandate private employers with five employees or more or one or more domestic workers to offer 10 annual days of paid personal time per year. The Mayor made Paid Personal Time a central component of his State of the City address in January, and the bill was first heard by the City Council in May.

Providing paid personal time for workers in overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll by the Community Service Society found that 80% of New Yorkers support requiring businesses to provide at least 10 days of paid personal time, with 70% of New Yorkers strongly supporting.

While the legislation is pending City Council passage, almost one million New Yorkers continue to go without a single day of paid personal time. Research has shown that paid time off helps increase productivity, strengthens families, helps prevent burnout and improves employee retention. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate any paid time off, including paid holidays. Nationally, one in four full-time, middle-income workers gets no paid time off at all.

Workers in New York City with no paid time off include:

  • 33 percent of full-time workers and 75 percent of part-time workers
  • 62 percent of low-income workers
  • 36 percent of middle-income workers
  • 110,000 retail workers
  • 200,000 professional and business services workers
  • 250,000 accommodation and food service workers

Like the groundbreaking Paid Safe and Sick Leave legislation, this policy would be implemented and enforced by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). When the legislation passes, New York City will be the first city in the nation to mandate paid personal time for workers allowing employees to take paid time off for any purpose, including religious observances, bereavement and time with family.

The City has ensured the legislation includes mandates to protect businesses and address employer concerns. The legislation currently covers the same universe of businesses with 5 or more employees, or one or more domestic workers, covered by the Mayor’s 2014 legislation expanding Paid Safe and Sick Leave and has similar provisions to make it easier for businesses to implement. Employees would begin to accrue hours immediately after employment, earning one hour of paid personal time for every 30 hours worked. Employees would be able to begin to accruethe benefit after 90 days of employment and after working at least 80 hours. Any unused paid personal time could be carried over to the following year for a total maximum of 10 days. The bill currently allows employers to make changes to their leave policy as long as it complies with the legislation. Employers could require up to two weeks’ notice and have reasonable exceptions for granting leave to prevent too many workers from taking simultaneous leave.

“We need to seize this moment. Nail salon workers have endured too much for long. We have sacrificed too much, including missing family moments that we will never get back. This needs to end for us and for all workers who have no paid personal time off. We are looking to our elected officials to take action and help us become the first city in this nation to grant its workers Paid Personal Time Off,” said Yanelia Ramirez, nail salon worker and member of the NY Nail Salon Workers Association

“This benefit, Paid Time Off, will be a Godsend to all of us,” said JFK Airport worker Pedro Gamboa, member of 32BJ SEIU. “We will be able to take time off not just to unwind and recharge, but to also take care of ourselves and our families, when we need to. And, it will be a relief to not lose income while we are off, income that we'll need to take care of vital necessities.”

“I’m thrilled to join this rally to speak about my experiences as a nanny. As a domestic worker, I have experienced the importance of having time to rest and recover from a stressful job with long hours. Paid time off has made a significant difference in my life, allowing me the freedom to live my life fully. I was even able to obtain a college degree while working full-time. Since then, I've become an organizer to help empower others facing similar challenges. More than anything, I believe that everyone deserves to experience dignity and fairness in the workplace" said Jacqui Orie, domestic worker and organizer for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

"Providing New Yorkers with Paid Personal Time will allow more people to take the time they need to maintain the important pieces of their lives that exist outside of work. Whether it's taking care of family, attending milestone events, or practicing religious observance – we all deserve the space to do the things that form the basis of a full and healthy life, without having to sacrifice income. I support the work of my fellow elected leaders, the workers, and advocates leading this fight, and join the call for New York City Council to pass Int. 800," said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

“Paid Personal Time is a key workers’ rights issue. So many people in New York City would benefit from this policy because, when we treat workers right, everybody wins! Families are stronger, workplace culture improves, and the work we do is of a higher quality when we can take the necessary time away from our jobs to attend to personal matters. I support Int. 800 wholeheartedly and look forward to seeing it pass in the City Council very soon,” said State Senator Robert Jackson.

"Every employee needs and deserves paid time off to take care of personal matters, spend time with their loved ones, and rest. This is a fundamental truth, and a question of basic human dignity. The fact that in 2019 so many hard working Americans have no paid leave is an absolute travesty. I commend Mayor de Blasio for taking action, and giving a large segment of working New Yorkers the peace of mind and sense of personal dignity this law will provide. This was long overdue and should be considered by local governments across the country," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women & Gender Equity.

"No one should be forced to choose between keeping their job or taking some reasonable time off to take care of their health, watch their kids, or for any other reason they deem important, but across the board, we see hundreds of thousands of workers having to make these difficult decisions in a work environment that offers little support or sympathy," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "New York City has the opportunity to be a leader in securing relief for more workers through paid personal time. I stand in solidarity with all the advocates who are here today to advance that mission forward."

"New Yorkers work really hard, and eventually everybody needs a day off. Not a single city or state in the union mandates paid time, while it is the standard in the rest of the industrialized world," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The research is clear that a rested worker is a more productive worker. Mandating paid personal time will also help New York City families in ways that cannot be measured on a bar graph, whether it's having time for preventive medical check-ups, helping your children when they need you, or taking a mental health day. Thank you to Public Advocate Williams and the de Blasio Administration for making New York City a national leader on this issue."

“I am proud to support legislation to provide paid time off to hundreds of thousands of workers in New York City,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “Paid time off is essential to every person’s productivity and quality of life. Thanks to a bill sponsored by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, this right would be extended to workers across all five boroughs, making NYC one step closer to reaching our goal of becoming the fairest big city in America.”

"Every day, thousands of nannies, house cleaners, and care workers go to work in New York City, powering the economy from behind closed doors. New York City’s paid personal time legislation will ensure that all domestic workers are protected by the most progressive paid personal time law in the nation. This measure will fundamentally change the ability of our care workforce to care for themselves and the people they love. Paid time off is a fundamental right and a core component of a happy, healthy life,” said Ai-Jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“This is an incredible development for the men and women who work hard to keep New York running and to provide for their own families every day. For many low wage workers in particular, paid personal time has been an unobtainable luxury. If they have wanted to take a day off, for any reason, they have been forced to struggle without pay and wonder whether or not their job will be waiting for them when they return. Ten paid days off will create much needed stability for working families in our city” said Shirley Aldebol, 32BJ Vice President.

"Paid personal time is good for the health of workers and good for the health of our economy.  As doctors, we know that work-life balance is important.  Taking needed time off aids in the medical and psychological well-being of a person and a healthier and more engaged worker will be a more productive and satisfied worker.  Paid personal time is about respect for workers and will help in recruiting new workers and retaining workers," said Frank Proscia, M.D., President, Doctors Council SEIU.

“On behalf of our union’s 40,000 members, I applaud Mayor de Blasio for taking yet another courageous step forward for working New Yorkers,” said Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council. “Working people should not have to choose between job security and taking a day off to care for themselves or their families. I’m proud that our city is leading the nation in advancing this historic legislation, and look forward to seeing the countless ways New Yorkers’ lives are enriched once it is enacted.”

 “Paid family leave is a no-brainer for working families.  The UAW applauds Mayor de Blasio's proactive approach to helping New York's working families get a leg up on an economy that is dominated by corporate greed, increased need to work more hours for less pay, and a quickly expanding gap between rich people and working people,” said Deborah L. Wright, Director of Region 9 of the of the United Auto Workers.

“Restaurant workers work long hours for long pay and never get a day off when a loved one dies, to deal with an emergency for their child, or just to spend time with their child. All workers deserve time off to deal with family issues or to rest and spend time with their families,” said Sekou Siby, Executive Director of  ROC United NY.

“Paid personal time is a critical social and economic justice measure, allowing working people the time to mark key moments in life, moments that faith communities hold up and hallow. Having such time is a hallmark of a compassionate, just and humane economy and society,” said Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition.

"Center for Frontline Retail's members, Board of Directors, staff fully support Paid Personal Time as it would immeasurably benefit retail workers. With Paid Personal Time, retail workers will finally be able to take a much-needed day off, attend a child's event, celebrate holidays and family milestones, or any number of other activities. Right now, a retail corporate executive can take personal time, and it's long overdue that frontline workers get the same opportunity," said Brian Fuss, Executive Director at Center for Frontline Retail.

“We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this issue and the NYC Council members who support this legislation. Low-income and Middle- Income workers are the backbone of our economy and NAN wishes to ensure these workers have an opportunity to receive Paid Personal Time when they need it. This makes sense on all levels and we support this much needed legislation. Workers need a break, and it’s about time we pass this legislation now!” said Derek Perkinson, NYC Field Director, National Action Network.

“Many of our members work over 50+ hours a week with little time to see their families. Vacation is a foreign concept with them not being able to miss a paycheck. New York City can lead the country and guarantee paid personal time for workers across the city. Now let’s pass it,” said Zachary Lerner, Labor Organizing Director, New York Communities for Change.

“It’s inhumane that more than half of low-wage New Yorkers receive no paid time off for personal needs or vacation.  Like we did with the Fight for $15, New York has the chance here to lead the nation in guaranteeing for all workers this basic necessity that most of us take for granted,” said Paul Sonn, state policy program director at the National Employment Law Project.

"The research is clear that paid time off makes workers more productive, businesses more stable, and families and communities stronger. That's why most businesses already provide paid leave. A nudge from the City is needed to help all businesses rise to this level, and that's a good and timely thing," said James A. Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies, Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

“The hardworking families and individuals that power our city often have to miss important family events or milestones in their lives because they cannot afford to take time off. The passage of this legislation would not only improve the lives of one million workers in New York City who currently lack access to paid personal days, but it will make our city healthier and more productive,” said Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation. 

  "Nearly half of low-wage and part-time workers do not have a single paid personal day off. NYC's paid personal time bill would ensure all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable, will be able to attend a loved one's graduation, or a parent-teacher conference, or simply take a day off to rest," said Sherry Leiwant, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance. "We applaud Mayor de Blasio for championing this groundbreaking proposal and recognizing the importance of paid personal time and the great benefit it will provide to the health and welfare of our City." 

“The manicurist you heard from today, toiled in her nail salon for ten years without a single paid vacation day off.  But she is not alone,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research and Advocacy at the Community Service Society.  “Our latest survey research reveals that only 38 percent of low-income workers have paid vacation time compared to two-thirds of moderate and higher income workers in New York City.  It’s time to end this injustice and give all workers the occasional break they need for family obligations, to meet other demands in life, and to rest.”

“In the city that "doesn't sleep," paid personal time is a necessity that allows working people to address life's critical moments without fear of losing their jobs. It also offers a small step towards providing much-need hours of rejuvenation to New Yorkers across the spectrum--and in so doing helps keep our common humanity intact,” said Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York.

“For over a century the world has looked to the United States to set the standard for the rights of workers, and for much of those standards, the country has looked to New York City to lead the way. New York has continued to make great strides on behalf of our workers, but in the area of paid personal time, we are lagging behind many countries and localities around the world.  With all of the pressures, financial and otherwise, facing New York's City's workers, they deserve time needed to deal with the unexpected as well as anticipated personal and family needs. Their health and wellness and that of their families and their community can often depend on being able to take that time off. Let's lead the way again as one of the greatest cities the world has ever known. We urge the City Council to consider and Pass Intro 800 without delay,” said Marc L. Greenberg, Executive Director of Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing.

“SAICA is committed to equity and justice for all. We need to equalize the vacation gap and make paid time off available to all the workers who serve as the backbone of our economy," said Shafiqur Rahman (Milan), Board Chairman, South Asian and Indo Caribbean Alliance.

"Paid personal time is a fundamental right—not a privilege—which all people should have. It is a vital freedom that makes it possible for individuals to spend time with their families, travel, tend to other needs, and live more equitable lives. Sakhi for South Asian Women stands for paid leave for all, and supports Int. 800 which will guarantee paid personal time off for all New York private sector employees," said Kavita Mehra, Executive Director for Sakhi.

“At Sadhana, we are guided by the notion of ekatva -- the oneness of all of us. From this perspective, justice means equitable rights for all New Yorkers. We see it as an injustice that some of us can afford to spare time to attend to the needs of loved ones and other urgent personal matters, while others cannot afford to do so. It is unacceptable that those of us who are struggling to make ends meet have no access to protected personal time, something that is available only to the wealthy. The ability to care for ourselves and our loved ones should not be a luxury. In the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that he must work towards lokasangraha, which means universal common good. In the interest of lokasangraha, universal common good, Sadhana wholeheartedly supports this effort to ensure that every New Yorker can take the personal time they need to live a full and healthy life,” said Sunita Viswanath, Co-founder and board member, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus.

"At Sapna NYC, we believe strongly in building a just and equitable city that recognizes the importance of supporting and lifting up those most vulnerable. Paid personal time to celebrate or mourn with family, to observe cultural or religious holidays, to make time for self-care, etc. should not be a luxury. It should be a basic right for all workers, not just reserved for the privileged few. If we don't provide this paid time off, we are asking the city's most vulnerable to make choices like attending a loved one's funeral of being able to put food on the table, going to their child's back to school night or being able to buy their children clothes as they grow, celebrating Eid with their community or being able to afford medication. Those aren't choices that people should have to make," said Diya Basu-Sen, Executive Director at Sapna NYC.

As an organization with a long history of supporting labor rights, the MinKwon Center supports essential paid time-off for all workers. With worker productivity at its highest levels in history, adequate paid time off is needed to maintain a healthy, productive, and sustainable workforce that benefits everyone. More importantly, it helps set a precedent and example that quality of life should not be dismissed, but be a line-item and constant consideration in policy making,” said John Park, Executive Director, MiKwon Center.

All New York City families who work hard throughout the year to provide for their children should have the opportunity for paid personal leave which can lead to lower stress levels, lower incidences of depression and more happiness at home – all which will lead to stronger New York City families. We look forward to working with the Mayor and City Council on moving this initiative forward as a way to benefit all children and families,” said Naomi Post, Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund-New York.

"The Founding Chapter of One Hundred Black Men supports initiatives that bring about healthy and productive work environments for NYC's diverse workforce. Paid Leave legislation would allow time for workers to handle important personal business, relieve stress and distractions, and foster a healthier work environment. For Black and Brown families and single parents who are often juggling work, parenting, school (for children and themselves) and other aspects of life, not having to choose between work and family will support their mental and physical health and, according to research, may bring about a more productive work place," said Courtney A. Bennett, Executive Director, One Hundred Black Men.

"Paid personal leave is not a luxury.  It is a necessity for all who work and especially for those who work in lower wage categories and do so much for so many for so little," said Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper, Senior Pastor, Judson Memorial Church.

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