Supporters of Paid Family Leave Call for Immediate Passage in the Senate

For Immediate Release: May 6, 2015
Contact: Emma Woods, emma@berlinrosen.com, 646-200-5303

Advocates and Impacted New Yorkers Meet with Senators, Urge them to Pass Crucial Protection for Working Families

Albany, NY – During a lobby day Wednesday, advocates and New Yorkers without paid family leave met with Senators and called on them to support the Paid Family Leave Insurance Act before the end of session.

At a press conference, supporters highlighted the impossible choice between their family’s health and economic stability that far too many New Yorkers are faced with. They held signs reading, “When a new baby arrives, should you have to worry that a few weeks home means not being able to pay the rent?” and “When your dad is battling cancer, should you have to worry that helping him means not being able to pay your bills?”

The lobby day comes on the heels of strategy meetings held in seven cities across the state last week. In each region, labor and community leaders identified local actions and events to mobilize citizens between now and the end of the legislative session. Over 6,000 postcard petitions were distributed, as well as instructions for how constituents can call and write to their local Senate offices to show support.

“The time is now to approve a paid family leave program that would enable New York’s working men and women to better balance their needs on the home front with their equally pressing responsibilities on the work front. This legislation would provide families with the long-overdue opportunity to take time off from work, without completing sacrificing their paychecks, to care for new babies or sick family members. No one should be forced to go bankrupt, and choose between work and their loved ones, at times of greatest family need,” said Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

“As the Senate sponsor of this legislation, I am delighted that the State Assembly has approved this bill, and I hope my legislative chamber will follow suit. While federal law permits up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, the United States remains the only advanced country in the world that does not give workers paid support when they need it the most. Given the unprecedented momentum with regard to obtaining paid family leave in New York, I believe that it’s not a question of if the legislation will pass, but merely when,” concluded Addabbo.

“Paid family leave means New Yorkers not having to choose between their job and a loved one in need — that’s a big deal for parents, kids, caregivers and our economy,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I continue to urge my Republican colleagues to allow us to pass this needed legislation. I look forward to continuing our push with the New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign and all the advocates, my colleagues, and families across the state.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “No New Yorker should have to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of their family.  I applaud Assembly Member Nolan for her leadership in passing this bill, which will ensure critical protections for all working families, and I urge the Senate leadership to bring Senator Addabbo’s bill to the floor for a vote.”

“As a Cosponsor for S.3004, I am proud to stand here with my Democratic colleagues today in supporting the commonsense policy issue that is paid family leave. Our generation’s workforce faces a growing income inequality gap that makes it increasingly difficult for our middle class to get by, let alone thrive. This problem is exacerbated by the inability of workers to take reasonable time from their jobs to tend to an injury, sickness, pregnancy, or care for a loved one without any sort of income to provide for their family. I will work tirelessly with my Democratic colleagues to continue pushing for this legislation so that we change this unfortunate reality and finally do right by the workers and families of New York State,” said New York State Senator Marc Panepinto, 60th Senate District

“Working men and women in this state and across the country should not be forced to choose between nurturing a newborn or caring for a sick family member and paying the bills. The Labor Movement has fought hard for working families and we will continue that effort until we achieve our goal of ensuring workers are able to put family first. New York has an opportunity to stand up for what’s right and set an example for the nation in recognizing the importance of family leave. It’s the right thing to do,” said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO.

“For almost every New Yorker, there will come a time in our lives when we need to care for a newborn child, an aging parent or grandparent, or a seriously ill family member. Yet most of us can’t take paid time off from work to do so. That’s why it’s imperative that Albany pass the Paid Family Leave Act. Because no one should have to choose between putting food on the table or caring for a loved one,” said Janel Quarless, NY Working Families Legislative Campaigns Manager.

“Paid family leave would be a godsend to countless stressed family caregivers who worry about making ends meet while caring for the people they love. For many, receiving continuing income and knowing they can return to their job will prevent financial and emotional disaster. As our society continues aging, a family paid leave policy will be both compassionate and cost-effective by supporting caregivers in their invaluable work to care for our frail elderly at home, rather than leaving them no choice but to send their loved ones to institutional settings that are far more expensive for both families and taxpayers,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York.

“While lack of paid family leave is an issue affecting all New Yorkers with family responsibilities, it is especially acute for working women and new moms struggling to get by on low wages,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research and Advocacy at Community Service Society. “Many of them are forced to return to work when their infants are just two or three weeks old.  As Mothers’ Day approaches, we hope the Senate will pass paid family leave legislation so that all moms have the time and financial security they need to give their new babies a healthy start.”

“During these last six weeks of the legislative session, we are calling on the NYS Senate to pass a paid family leave bill, so that workers in this state no longer experience financial insecurity when they need time off to welcome a new baby or to care for a dying parent. New York State needs to take the Lead on Leave and become the next and fourth state in the country to pass paid family leave. There is no better present to give your mother on Mother’s Day. Forget the flowers and the chocolates and give her something she really needs – paid family leave,” said Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition.

The Paid Family Leave Insurance Act (A.3870 Nolan/S.3004 Addabbo), which passed the Assembly in March, would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, and deal with issues that arise when a family member is called to active military service.

The paid family leave insurance benefit is entirely employee-paid, through small payroll deductions that start at just 45 cents and rise to roughly 88 cents a week over four years. The law does not create a new administrative requirement, but rather expands New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance program (TDI) through a small increase in premiums that would continue to be shared by employers and employees, as they are now. The legislation would also raise the TDI benefit for the first time in 26 years.

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 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, A Better Balance, Citizen Action of New York, Community Service Society, New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Paid Leave Coalition, the NYS AFL-CIO and the Working Families Organization

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