Sick Politics

What’s worse than a rough flu season? That’s easy—a rough flu season at the beginning of a mayoral election campaign.

No, we’re not worried that the candidates may come down with something while on the campaign trail, although we certainly don’t wish anyone ill. But the current flu epidemic has inspired some unfortunate political posturing concerning a bill that would force employers to offer paid sick leave for workers.

The bill has been dormant in the City Council for two years, thanks to opposition from Council speaker and prospective mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who believes that now is not the time to add to the burdens of small business owners. That’s a sensible position.

The bill, sponsored by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, would require companies employing between five and 19 workers to provide five paid sick days per year. Larger enterprises would have to offer nine sick days.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who will face Ms. Quinn and a cast of hundreds in next September’s Democratic mayoral primary, seized on this year’s flu outbreak to argue in favor of mandatory sick leaves. “We need paid sick days—it’s a matter of public health,” Mr. de Blasio said. Other advocates have ramped up their rhetoric to capitalize on the flu season.

Speaker Quinn remains steadfast in her opposition to the bill. Given the speaker’s extraordinary power over legislation, the bill will continue to gather dust as long as she remains opposed. As well it should.

Paid sick leave sounds fine in the abstract, but those who understand the realities of running a small business know that it would be an intolerable burden. Such a mandate inevitably would result in more job losses—just what the city doesn’t need at a time when the unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, significantly higher than the national figure of 7.8 percent.

The bill should stay on the shelf. Meanwhile, if you have the actual flu that has nothing to do with electoral campaign headaches – chew some garcinia cambogia, it’ll get rid of any unpleasantness quick!