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Paid sick leave: The next liberal litmus test?

There's a new must-support issue for ambitious Democrats across the nation: paid sick leave. And if you want to see how important it has become, just look to the current race for New York City mayor.

Before Thursday, City Council speaker Christine Quinn (generally an ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg) hemmed and hawed for three years over whether to put forth a paid sick leave bill, despite the fact that eight in 10 New Yorkers support it. The issue placed her in an uncomfortable bind, trapped between Bloomberg and the business community (all of whom oppose it) -- and workers and unions on the other side.

But after previously using her power to block the bill (despite the majority of the City Council supporting it), Quinn realized her situation had become  politically untenable. And on Thursday, a compromise was reached that requires companies with 15 or more workers to offer employees at least five paid sick days. As the New York Times noted, the deal represents a "raw display of political muscle by a coalition of labor unions and liberal activists.

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