The Albany County Legislature has defeated a bill that would have mandated paid sick leave.
Local Law “C”was voted down 21 to 17. The proposal mandated all part-time employees accrue a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.
Many small businesses opposed the bill, saying that coupled with the minimum wage hike, the law would force them to re-locate to nearby counties. They claimed it also would discourage new businesses from setting up shop in Albany County.
Albany County Legislature Minority Leader Frank Mauriello, a Republican from Colonie, voted no. "Schenectady County, Saratoga, Rensselaer counties, are all far more business-friendly than we are and I think it's import that we send a signal and a message to the business community that we are open for business and we welcome you to locate here.
Those favoring the measure argued it would promote public health by reducing the spread of illness, thus lowering healthcare costs.
Ivette Alfonso is President of Citizen Action of New York. "Our county legislators were elected to protect the health and well-being of their constituents, not the profit margins of wealthy business interests. Also we were appalled by the stance taken by several non-profits including the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless and the YMCA of the Capital District. We are very disappointed in the legislators who voted to deny working people the basic protection of paid sick days. This is an unfortunate setback for our community and we expect voters will remember this vote when they head to the polls later this month."
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy is among those who suggest the law might best be left up to state legislators so that all counties would end up on equal ground, economically-speaking. The Democrat emailed WAMC a statement, which says in part: "While I’m disappointed to see Local Law C fail, if the Legislature can’t find the support for this measure, then we must call on state leaders to ensure all New Yorkers have this right.”
Mauriello believes the law would have impacted part-time job opportunities for teens and students, leading to more automation and even job loss in the county. His thinking was shaped by a real-life encounter he had after the minimum wage was raised. "I walked into a McDonald's to purchase an ice tea. When I approached the counter there was one clerk standing behind the counter and he pointed at me and mumbled something and I looked and saw a self-service kiosk, so I used the kiosk to order my ice tea, and what was going through my mind at the time was, 'Oh my God, this kiosk just eliminated probably three jobs.’ And there was a second kiosk there. So I would imagine those kiosks probably eliminated a total of 12 jobs in that restaurant. They don't require sick leave, vacation time, they're always in operation. People don't understand whatever you do will have a consequence somewhere else. You really have to think through what you're proposing. Sick leave is well intended. A $15 minimum wage, well intended. But what's really going to happen to the people you're trying to help? You're gonna hurt those people, you're really not gonna help them."
County Legislature Chair Democrat Andrew Joyce did not respond to requests for comment from WAMC Tuesday.