Dozens of organizations attend passage of legislation that would support some 123,000 local workers
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — On Monday evening, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed the Westchester Earned Paid Sick Leave bill, which provides up to five paid sick days per year to workers who lack this basic benefit. The bill now moves forward to the desk of Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
“Over 30 labor unions and community organizations came together to support this bill,” said Joe Mayhew, Vice President of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body and a leader in the Community/Labor Coalition for Employee Earned Sick Time. “We are all thrilled by its historic passage. We offer our thanks to the County Board of Legislators for their support and especially to bill sponsor Catherine Borgia for three years of hard work to win its passage. Her leadership and compassion has led us to realize legislation that will finally serve the 36% of Westchester workers who lack paid sick leave.”
“Having paid sick days is a fundamental benefit that everyone deserves,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU “It helps workers make a speedy recovery, provides for the support of their families, and protects the health of fellow workers and the employers’ clients. Unions like ours are proud to make it a cornerstone of our agreements with employers, and we are proud that Westchester now joins New York City in providing this protection as a basic right.”
“My story is the story of thousands of us who don’t have a voice,” said Jasmine Dillard of Community Voices Heard, who used to come to work sick while caring for elderly patients as a home health aide. “With the passage of this bill, over a third of the workers in Westchester can finally take care of themselves without losing the pay they dearly need.”
“In total, it is estimated that over 100,000 workers do not have access to sick pay in Westchester and over 30,000 are women, said Myra Saul, a representative of Westchester for Change. “Legislation of this type is in effect in many localities across the country, including New York City. Nowhere have these laws been cited as an impediment to conducting business by local business owners. We’re proud that Westchester County will now join their ranks.”
“This bill is the right medicine at the right time,” said Sarah Leberstein, Staff Attorney/Workplace Justice Coordinator at Make the Road New York. “Make the Road New York’s clients have often suffered significant hardship because of a lack of paid sick leave protections. The bill’s passage must be taken seriously by employers who refuse to let workers take sick time, withhold pay when their workers must miss work, or require them to find replacement workers. All these abuses must come to an end.”
“We applaud Westchester and in particular the tireless work of paid sick time sponsor Catherine Borgia for ensuring that the workers of Westchester County will have access to paid sick time when they or a family member is sick. This important law will not only ensure that Westchester workers can take care of themselves and their families but also will protect the public health of the County. Westchester’s passage of paid sick time brings the number of localities requiring paid sick time to 35 along with 11 states. In New York state, Westchester joins New York City in enacting this important policy and we are hopeful that soon all workers in New York state will have access to paid sick time,” said Sherry Leiwant, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance.
“The new Earned Sick Leave law is critical for the health and well-being of Westchester, including the 123,000 workers do not have access to any sick time. We want to thank the members of the Community/Labor Coalition for Employee Earned Sick Time for their tireless advocacy on this issue, Legislator Catherine Borgia for her persistence and commitment to pass this critical protection for hard working employees in Westchester County, and all members of the Legislature for caring about the economic security and health of its workforce, “ said Donna Dolan, Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition.
“This common-sense bill will make Westchester a healthier place to work and live,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said.
“It’s not just that Paid Sick Time is an economic issue; it’s also a moral issue for our community,” said Keven Sheil, President of the Communications Workers of America Local 1103. “The Westchester County Board of Legislators has done the right thing all around.”
Press Contact: Eric Williams
More than Fifty Women Lawmakers, Leaders, and Organizations Respond to Governor Cuomo with Letter Urging Action on Paid Family Leave
Contact: Emma Woods, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-200-5303
Signers, Including Advocates for Women’s Equality Agenda, Refute Governor’s Recent Statement that Albany has “No Appetite” for Paid Family Leave Legislation
Letter Comes on the Heels of Senate Republicans’ Inclusion of Paid Family Leave Program in Budget Proposal
New York, NY – Fifty-seven women lawmakers, leaders, and organizations have signed an open letter to Governor Cuomo urging immediate action on paid family leave. Released today by the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign, the letter addresses the Governor’s recent comment that there is “no appetite” for paid family leave legislation in Albany.
The letter comes on the heels of news that the Senate Republicans would include a paid family leave program in their budget proposal, and participate in a joint hearing of the Labor and Social Service committees that will address paid family leave later this week.
Women elected leaders who signed the letter include Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assembly Member Shelley Mayer, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Assemblywoman Addy Russell, Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. They are joined by the Women’s Equality Coalition, League of Women Voters of New York State, and the leaders of organizations championing equal pay, reproductive rights, access to childcare, and more.
“Albany’s appetite for change, you stated, is satiated by other policies that seek to advance women’s equality, and which deserve to be addressed first. We respectfully disagree,” the letter reads.
“As women lawmakers, representatives of women’s organizations, and advocates for the Women’s Equality Agenda, we write to tell you that New Yorkers are, in fact, quite hungry for paid family leave, and the economic security it would bring to our communities and our families. The time for this issue has come. New York should step forward as a leader.”
The letter goes on to note that New York could easily become the next state to implement paid family leave. Like the three states that already have paid family leave – California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – the program could piggyback on New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance fund (TDI).
“Unlike other states working hard to find money to create a new paid family leave program, New York has an existing structure that can easily be expanded to include care of new children and family members. Creating this program will cost our state nothing, while providing critical support for families,” the letter goes on to say.
Read the letter in its entirety below:
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We write in response to your recent remarks that New York lacks the “appetite” to pass paid family leave legislation. Albany’s appetite for change, you stated, is satiated by other policies that seek to advance women’s equality, and which deserve to be addressed first.
We respectfully disagree. As women lawmakers, representatives of women’s organizations, and advocates for the Women’s Equality Agenda, we write to tell you that New Yorkers are, in fact, quite hungry for paid family leave, and the economic security it would bring to our communities and our families. The time for this issue has come. New York should step forward as a leader.
From wage discrimination to paid family leave, policies that advance gender equity work in tandem. Indeed, the lack of paid family leave is a key contributor to women’s lower pay and inequality, and it further impacts fathers, seniors, newborns, the chronically ill, and our economy as a whole.
Why paid family leave now? Because, as our President rightfully recognized in his State of the Union address, the U.S. is “the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”
Because voters on both sides of the aisle overwhelmingly agree on the issue, and that government has a responsibility to provide such policies that reflect the realities of modern families. Statewide, 7 out of 10 voters support modernizing our Temporary Disability Insurance system to provide paid family leave, according to a Marist poll. In NYC, support has grown to 84%, with the latest Community Service Society/Lake survey finding that 2 out of 3 New Yorkers strongly support paid family leave.
Because doctors have found that policies allowing family members to be with their loved ones through an illness are good for the health of their patients; and because economists know it keeps women in the workforce and increases their earning potential – without hurting businesses small or large.
And because New York is the only state besides Hawaii that has a Temporary Disability Insurance program that has not been expanded to include paid family leave. Unlike other states working hard to find money to create a new paid family leave program, New York has an existing structure that can easily be expanded to include care of new children and family members. Creating this program will cost our state nothing, while providing critical support for families.
Paid family leave would ensure that no New Yorker has to choose between the health and economic stability of her family. It would mean that the major life moments we all share – the arrival of a new child, or a close relative needing care – do not have to mean debt or bankruptcy.
As a national consensus grows around the issue, the appetite for paid family leave in New York State only grows. And thus, we call on you to join us in supporting and pressing for a paid family leave policy that not only advances women, but all of New York.
Senate Democratic Leader
Toby Ann Stavisky
Michaelle C. Solages
Speaker, New York City Council
New York City Public Advocate
Manhattan Borough President
Vice President, 1199 SEIU
Dina Bakst & Sherry Leiwant
Co-Founders & Co-Presidents, A Better Balance
American Association of University Women
National Women’s Chair, CBTU
Executive Director, Center for Children’s Initiatives
Executive Director, Citizen Action New York
VP for Policy Research and Advocacy, Community Service Society
Elizabeth Isakson, MD FAAP & Dina Lieser, MD, FAAP
Co-Directors, Docs for Tots
Founder, ECE PolicyWorks
Chief Creative Officer, Eileen Fisher, Inc
Executive Director, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy
Equity in Education and Employment
Family Planning Advocates
Jennifer Jones Austin
Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Cynthia DiBartolo, Esq.
Chairperson, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
President Emeritus, Labor Council For Latin American Advancement
League of Women Voters of New York State
Journalist and Author
President, National Organization for Women – New York State
Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union
Executive Director, New York Paid Leave Coalition
New York Women’s Equality Coalition
Planned Parenthood – Central and Western NY
Planned Parenthood – Hudson Peconic
Planned Parenthood – Mid-Hudson Valley
Planned Parenthood – Mohawk-Hudson
Planned Parenthood – Nassau County
CEO, Planned Parenthood – Southern Finger Lakes
President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City
PowHer NY Equal Pay Campaign
Mary Beth Morrissey
Public Health Association of New York City (PHANYC)
Policy Director, The Children’s Agenda
Dana Friedman, Ed. D
President, The Early Years Institute
Chair, UFCW Women’s Network
President/CEO, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood
Jacqueline M. Ebanks
Executive Director, Women’s City Club of NY
Executive Director, YWCA of Binghamton and Broome County
Executive Director, YWCA Orange County
The New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign consists of a diverse group of women’s organizations, children’s advocates, labor and public health leaders, advocates for seniors and those with chronic disease, and community and faith-based organizations. The Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign’s Steering Committee consists of A Better Balance, Community Service Society, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Paid Leave Coalition and the NYS AFL-CIO.