Sick New Yorkers still forced to work during flu epidemic

Sick New Yorkers still forced to work during flu epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that the current flu season has officially been designated an “epidemic.” Last year, only 4,400 New Yorkers were diagnosed with  “severe” flu cases, but this season, that number has already risen to 15,000 — an explosive 250% increase.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah has advised New Yorkers to stay away from those who are sick, but that’s easier said than done. Right now, more than a million mostly Black, Latino and immigrant workers in New York City are forced to go to work with the flu every day, without the benefit of any paid time off to care for themselves. This poses a serious threat to the economic security of working families and puts the health of all New Yorkers at risk.

A 2012 poll found that 83% of New Yorkers favor a law requiring minimum paid sick days for workers. Hundreds of ColorOfChange members have taken action, calling on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on the Paid Sick Time Act. But Speaker Quinn, who has complete control over when the matter comes to a vote, asserts that implementing the bill in the current economic climate would be unwise. Despite the public support Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor, continues to play politics with the health of New Yorkers.

As flu season escalates, we are reminded of the importance of a comprehensive paid sick time bill. It is time for New York City to join the growing list of cities and states that have already passed this essential worker protection. Please join us to demand Speaker Quinn put the health of working New Yorkers above her own political aspirations and bring the Paid Sick Time Act to a vote.

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