City Council GOP Slams Expanded Paid Sick Leave Bill

Councilman Vincent Ignizio, the Republican minority leader. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)
Councilman Vincent Ignizio, the Republican minority leader. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

While the City Council overwhelmingly voted to pass new, expanded paid sick leave legislation this afternoon, the council’s tiny Republican bloc loudly opposed the measure. 

The three council Republicans–Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio, Steven Matteo and Eric Ulrich–joined two Democrats in voting against the bill, which will expand the number of businesses that need to provide paid sick days to their employees. Republicans argued that the bill, supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will slow hiring and even lead to an “underground” economy. 

“I believe and want to be the clarion call for this bill having unintended consequences. The unintended consequences for this law or bill I believe will have a chilling effect on small businesses,” Mr. Ignizio, a Staten Island Republican, said this afternoon. “I believe it will foster the underground economy. You will see business owners that sadly will not hire, will lay off folks or will start putting people off the books. That doesn’t help any of us.”

The council’s new bill will expand mandatory paid sick time coverage to nearly every business that employs five or more people, despite objections from some business leaders, who also argued the move will limit hiring. Under a previous version of the law, most businesses with 15 or more employees would be required to provide paid sick days, though many categories remained exempt.

Mr. Ignizio argued a tax incentive program would have been a more effective solution and slammed the law as an “unfunded government mandate.” His Staten Island colleague, Mr. Matteo, agreed. 

“It was a compromise. Admittingly, it did not have the support of everyone. Some thought it did not go far enough and others like myself still thought it will be a detriment to New York City’s small businesses,” Mr. Matteo said. “Now we’re being asked to set aside months of negotiations in favor of a bill that disregards the concerns of the people that own and operate small businesses that are the cornerstone of our economic vitality.”

Mr. Ulrich, an early supporter of Ms. Mark-Viverito in the speaker’s race, dramatically bucked her today as well. He said he supported the early version of the bill because only larger businesses would have been impacted. 

“I believe that this is actually going to be a detriment to the small businesses that we were trying to [protect] when we passed the first bill more than a year and a half ago,” said Mr. Ulrich, who represents Queens. “I represent a district like many of you where pizzerias, bakeries, flower shops, dry cleaners and other mom and pop stores are the main job creators, are the main economic engines that generate tax revenue, that breathe life into the commercial corridors and I cannot go back into my district today and look them in the eye and say I voted for something that I know is going to hurt them.”

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