Why You Should Care That Newark Just Passed a Paid Sick Leave Bill

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 28 2014 11:45 AM

Why You Should Care That Newark Just Passed a Paid Sick Leave Bill

And speaking of progressives pushing and pushing harder until they win something, the nation's biggest little news story comes from Newark, N.J., where the city council approved a bill to mandate paid sick days for everyone who works in the city. The vote was 5–0; the victory took months. Labor and community organizing groups, most notably the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, lobbied the city council and offered up polls to prove that sick leave was popular. Right after the vote, New Jersey's new senator praised his city.

There's been a lot of talk about the de Blasio effect, about how the mayoral victory of the city's most populist Democratic candidate has inspired progressives in other cities. Sick leave is probably the most direct consequence of de Blasio's win, because in New York, it helped him slaughter the competition.


I'll explain. In her final terms as New York City Council speaker, Christine Quinn set herself up as a slightly-more-progressive clone of Michael Bloomberg. The business community was fine with how things were going? Well, so was she. Progressives on the council pushed for a comprehensive sick leave bill—she blocked it and negotiated a watered-down version. As the New York Daily News reported at the time, de Blasio (then at low single digits in the polls) trekked to the headquarters of Al Sharpton's National Action Network to oppose Quinn's deal.

"People aren’t dumb," he said. "They’ll figure out that their interests were not her priority. Her interests were the interests of the business community and that’s been quite apparent."

In the first polls of 2013, before the sick leave compromise, Quinn's lead over the Democratic primary field hovered between 18 and 24 points. The first poll taken after the compromise, a Marist survey, found her lead shrinking by 7 points, her overall support falling from 37 percent to 26 percent. By the summer she was in a dogfight with that one guy who took pictures of his crotch and tweeted them. On Election Day, she won a pathetic 15.5 percent of the vote, coming in third place.

To people outside New York, Quinn became a very minor footnote, or maybe a tragic figure à la Hillary Clinton—just another woman defeated by the boys' club. But to progressives, Quinn was a major scalp, and sick leave was an obvious, achievable wedge issue to push for in liberal cities. And most large cities are liberal, or at least governed by Democrats.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


The Slatest

Ben Bradlee Dead at 93

The legendary Washington Post editor presided over the paper’s Watergate coverage.

This Scene From All The President’s Men Captures Ben Bradlee’s Genius

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 5:38 PM Justified Paranoia Citizenfour offers a look into the mind of Edward Snowden.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.