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Newark City Council Nears Vote on Paid Sick-Time Ordinance

Ramos said the benefits of paid sick days reach beyond the employees. Businesses benefit from more productive employees and the community benefits because sick workers are not spreading illness.

“When you are dealing with daycare workers, seniors, restaurant workers, the public health concerns are very important,” he said.

Mejia, of SEIU, said that going to work when they are sick could endanger the public health.

“Do you want to have a sick worker serve your food or care for your child or your elderly grandparents?” she asks.

For Assemblywoman Lampitt, the answer is "No."

“I think it is partly a public health bill,” she said. “Too many people go to work when they are not feeling well. I think that when there are signs of illness, people should take precautionary measures when they can. Employees without sick leave have no options.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said a statewide bill is important -- for workers and New Jersey residents, but also for the business community.

While a statewide bill would be good, Fulop said he thinks it “the best strategy to have places like Jersey City and Newark lead the charge” because there is “a lot of inaction at the state level,” so “you do it on a municipal level and do it from the bottom up.”

He said he has talked with other mayors and he is hopeful that other communities “of significant size” will follow suit so that “a majority of the state is covered because the urban areas are covered.” At that point, he said, the Legislature will have to act.

Ramos agreed.

“Paid sick leave is something that cities across America are looking at,” Ramos said, adding that he is hopeful that, with Jersey City and Newark adopting this, it “will create a bit of momentum for our state representatives and the governor’s office to consider this.”

The current, municipally-based approach, does “create momentum,” Weinberg said, but it also creates a question of fairness that makes it even more imperative that a statewide bill be passed.

“I don’t think that the best way to address an issue like this is town by town,” she said. “I believe this needs state action and one standard that applies to all of the residents and all of the businesses, one that applies to all of our citizens.”

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