‘This is a Latino issue’: The Quinn-targeted paid sick leave campaign, continued

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The coalition pressuring City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on paid sick leave continues to emphasize what could be at stake for her this year among Latino voters.

"This is a city issue, this is a Bronx issue, this is a Latino issue," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. told several thousand listeners on a Latino-focused teleconference call to drum up support for the bill on Tuesday night.

Organizers see an opportunity to engage Latinos in particular, who are among the least likely demographic groups to have paid sick leave, with only about 47 percent having paid time-off, according to statistics cited by Diaz on the call, which also included council members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Gale Brewer.

Latinos also represent a demographic group that's yet to commit to a candidate in this year's mayoral race, which does not include any Latino candidates in the Democratic primary.

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Mark-Viverito said there was "an incredible opportunity to change leadership at all levels in this city, something that we haven't seen in 12 years."

"We have candidates who want to represent us, that want to represent this city, and when that change in leadership happens, make sure they we're holding them accountable," she said. "Let them know this is going to be an issue that we base our vote on."

Organizers said 4,367 people listened to the call, or about double what they were expecting, and that 32 listeners took advantage of a prompt to leave Quinn a voicemail about paid sick leave.

Listeners could also press a button to ask questions of the elected officials on the call.

"Why has it taken this deadbeat Council so long to get this thing going?" asked Raymond Santiago, in the first few minutes of the call. "I mean, most of you are in office for four years, and you've been talking this thing to death for how long and meanwhile you've done nothing, it hasn't come up for a vote. Why haven't you voted on this yet?"

Brewer, who as the lead sponsor is still trying to work with Quinn rather than around her, said she was still hoping to find common ground with the speaker.

"We want a bill that incorporates as many workers as possible, we want it to be inclusive as possible and try to find a way for the speaker to be supportive at the same time, so that we get a real bill," she said.

"We're looking for the whole enchilada, so to speak," she added.

Diaz and Mark-Viverito were more direct about the speaker as an impediment.

"The speaker of the city council is not allowing us to go to a vote on the floor," said Diaz, who urged listeners to attend the City Council hearing on the issue on Friday.

Mark-Viverito said the issue wasn't about calling the Council. 

"You have to call the speaker's office," she said. "The speaker is the one that is not allowing the bill to the floor. ... We need to put pressure on the speaker. You don't have to call my office. You don't have to call the 35-36 others who support this bill. We have to make sure the pressure is on in a critical election year."

The call is the latest element of a sustained campaign to apply pressure to Quinn on paid sick leave by highlighting the importance of the issue to Hispanic New Yorkers.