Small Business Employees in New York, Many of Them Immigrants, March to Demand Paid Sick Time
By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W Contributor
Hundreds of workers marched over the Brooklyn Bridge last Thursday calling on New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support a bill that requires local small businesses to provide paid sick days to employees.
The bill would address cases like that of Guillermo Barrera.
Barrera, an immigrant from Mexico and a father of two, was showcased by the organizers as the quintessential example of what workers without sick-day rights endure.
He said he was fired September 18th from his job of seven years as a cook at a Brooklyn restaurant, because he felt too sick to work and asked his boss for the day off.
“Many workers like myself cannot miss a day of work or get sick because of fear of losing our jobs,” Barrera said. “Especially in the current economy, many workers suffer mistreatments from their bosses.”
In New York City, organizers said, over 900,000 workers, many of them immigrants, do not get a single paid sick day, either for themselves or to care for a sick child.
The lack of regulation in this area has caused many workers to be fired, suspended, or threatened by their employers. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Manhattan City Council Member Gail Brewer, would give workers the right to nine paid sick days a year.