De Blasio signs sick leave bill, reaches Hudson Yards deal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is joined by New York City Council members, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others as he signs the paid sick leave bill into law in on March 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday signed a bill to expand the number of private-sector workers who qualify for mandatory paid sick days, and he struck an agreement to hike workers' wages at the Hudson Yards development -- two sharp departures from his predecessor's policies.

Under the new law taking effect April 1, businesses that employ five workers or more -- covering a total of about 500,000 people and 44,000 businesses citywide -- must offer at least five paid sick days to their workers or face fines.

The Hudson Yards agreement raises wages for about 1,650 workers, such as janitors and security guards, to $10.30 an hour for jobs with benefits and to $11.90 an hour for those without benefits. The mayor's office said the deal also adds 139 more "affordable," or below-market-rate, housing units to the $20 billion mixed-use development rising on the far west side of Manhattan.

"We are showing we can in fact do more, hand-in-hand with the private sector, to deliver what the people of this city need," the mayor said in a statement.

Earlier this month, de Blasio modified another Bloomberg-era deal, on the development of the Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He secured tens of thousands of additional square feet of below-market-rate housing.

Although separate, de Blasio's actions Thursday mark a break from the policies of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who contended mandatory paid sick leave would be a job killer and pushed to exempt Hudson Yards, a multibillion development, and its developer, Related Cos., from a 2012 law requiring projects receiving significant city subsidies to pay a so-called living wage.

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The sick-leave law, fulfilling a campaign pledge, was the first law de Blasio signed as New York's 109th mayor.

"With the action we're going to take today, with a stroke of this pen, we're going to cover, as I said, half a million more people," de Blasio said.

Maria Tepper, general counsel and deputy commissioner for legal affairs of the city's Department of Consumer Affairs, which will be enforcing the sick-leave law, said that businesses with 19 or fewer employees as well as manufacturers won't be fined for the first six months in order to give them a chance to acclimate to the new law.

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