By Yepoka Yeebo and Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has shelved a proposed bill that would have given workers at small businesses paid sick days, effectively killing it.
The controversial bill would have required companies with 20 or more workers to provide nine paid sick days a year. About 1.3 million people in the private sector work without sick leave in the city, notably in the service industry, the Daily News reported.
Quinn said Thursday that she was torn between workers and small business members, who opposed the bill.
"We tried to reach a place of genuine compromise," she said. But "In the end, we were unable to bridge that divide."
"Now is simply not the right time for a measure that threatens the survival of small businesses," Quinn added.
The bill had the support of the influential Working Families Party and many members of the City Council. Quinn, who many suspect will run for mayor in 2013, was criticized for the move by the bill's backers.
"The first possible woman mayor has just turned her back on a critical but modest lifeline that families around the city need – a stunning abandonment of working mothers and parents and the progressive women who have supported her from day one," the NYS Paid Leave Coalition said in a statement.
But Quinn defended her decision.
"I haven’t turned my back on anybody," she said.
Quinn said the bill would cost business owners between $700 and $1,200 per employee and that "at a time like this, those thousands of dollars could be the breaking point for a small business owner who is already stretched too thin."
In a statement, Kenneth Adams, the president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, commended Quinn's decision, saying the bill would have threatened job growth during tough economic times.
"Our members and businesses across the boroughs say 'thank you,'" it read.
Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who introduced the bill, told reporters following the announcement that she was disappointed with Quinn.
"I believe she should have paid more attention to the compromises we were making. ... I don’t think she listened enough to us," Brewer said.
Still, she said Quinn's decision doesn't mean the bill is dead.
Brewer plans to bring the bill to the floor as soon as she thinks it has enough votes to pass.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had threatened to veto the bill even if it had passed, but the bill may have had enough support to override a potential veto.