The debate over a proposed paid sick days bill in Albany County is heating up.
The consensus inside Albany’s Citizen Action office on Monday was quite clear.
"I don’t wanna go and get a donut that someone has to go to work and sneeze into the donut 'cause they're too sick," said Mark Emanation, region organizer for the Capital District Area Labor Federation.
The Albany Paid Sick Days Coalition is calling on the county legislature to pass the paid sick days bill without any more amendments. Last month, the bill, also called Local Law C, was amended in favor of businesses with five or fewer employees. That amendment would allow those businesses to offer only unpaid sick days.
“It’s a struggle to understand why we have so much opposition," said law sponsor Doug Bullock.
But just as perplexed is the opposition itself.
“What’s the county going to want to do next, pay the kids to stay home from school?" asked Charles Guptill, the co-owner of Guptill's Ice Cream.
Guptill says his business employs more than 100 people, many of them teenagers.
“I’m looking at 15, 16 and 17 year olds, and they’re not gonna lose their mortgage," said Guptill. "When they’re sick, they stay home with their parents.”
Guptill tells Spectrum News the proposed bill would force his and other Albany businesses to boost their prices.
“It's gonna double their labor costs, and it's going to have to get passed on somewhere in an effort to survive," said Guptill.
But "surviving" is exactly what advocates for the bill say businesses should have no problem doing, even it means paying their employees sick time.
"We're talking about a few paid sick days a year. Insane. We live in the richest country, not in the world, but in the history of the world, and New York State is one of the richest economies in that world," Emanation said. "So enough, pass this, no more amendments, let's get this done, and we will remember who votes for this and who votes against this."