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Chamber responds to Mayor de Blasio’s unfunded, paid vacation proposal and rally

Advocates of Mayor de Blasio’s unfunded, two-week paid vacation mandate held a recent rally at City Hall in support of the proposal. The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce — along with the NYC Hospitality Alliance and many other small business representatives –submitted the following letter to ensure our members’ voices are heard!  

 
Dear NYC Council Member:
 
We urge you to read this very important letter in full concerning Mayor de Blasio’s unfunded, paid vacation proposal and rally.
 
We’ve heard that Mayor de Blasio may host a press conference at City Hall on Monday, September 9th to rally support for his unfunded, two-week paid vacation mandate. As Mayor de Blasio campaigns for President around the country, he is trying to dictate that his proposed legislation be passed this year, on his timeline, and not on the schedule of the City Council, which is an independent legislative body.
 
Equally troubling is that the de Blasio administration is attempting to dismiss and ignore small business owners and advocates in your district who express concern about the financial and operational impact the unfunded mandate poses by calling them “naysayers,” ignoring their legitimate concerns, and pitting small business owners against their employees.
 
The mayor and key members of his administration have also repeatedly misrepresented the current requirements for paid time off, and the situations it already covers. For example, the mayor’s spokesperson recently told Politico that nearly one million New Yorkers go without a single paid day off, so they have “no time to move their parent into a nursing home, and not even a few hours to visit a doctor.” The mayor’s Consumer Affairs commissioner wrote a misleading letter to the editor in the Daily News, in which she implied that a worker couldn’t take paid time off to visit their sick mother. In her Daily News op-ed First Lady McCray wrote, “When tragedy and hardship hit home, like the loss of a loved one or a sick parent, the ability to take time off is even more essential.” This implies the current paid leave laws do not already cover these types of situations.
 
The fact is that New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, and New York State’s Paid Family Leave Law ALREADY require employers to provide paid time off to workers under the aforementioned scenarios, as well as for several additional reasons.
 
Small business owners throughout the city understand that providing paid vacation to all employees is an ideal to strive towards, and many already accommodate their employees’ vacation requests in a manner that aligns with their business realities. However, many businesses are struggling, or simply can’t afford another expensive and complicated government mandate, which we’re certain you know by speaking with business owners in your district and by seeing all the vacant storefronts.
 
As a large group of small business owners in New York City, our message is clear: If it is a moral imperative that every worker requires at least two-weeks of paid vacation, in addition to the one-week of paid sick leave plus paid family leave to which they’re already legally entitled, then the City of New York must help fund and administer the benefit. This mechanism is used for Social Security, Paid Family Leave, and other social programs. As a business community, we would happily engage with the City Council in discussions about this possibility. But it would be irresponsible to not seriously investigate this approach and force the full burden of this mandate on the shoulders of the small business owners you represent.
 
It’s not enough for our elected leaders to only talk about how important small businesses are to their community and to decry the blight of closed storefronts. We need you to take action and support small businesses. 
 
Please do not be pushed into supporting the mayor’s proposal, especially before speaking with our organizations.
 
We respectfully urge you to consider our request and we look forward to your response.
 
Bronx Chamber of Commerce
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Food Industry Alliance of New York State, Inc
Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
National Supermarket Association
NATO, Theatre Owners of New York State, Inc
New York City Hospitality Alliance
New York State Restaurant Association
New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce 
Queens Chamber of Commerce
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce 

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