Long Island Officials Join Push for Paid Family Leave


With two weeks remaining until the state budget deadline, local and county level officials release letters and local resolutions urging State Senate to pass Paid Family Leave.

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Governor Cuomo proposing 12 weeks of job-protected leave for caring for a new child or seriously ill relative.

Photo by: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Via Flickr

Farmingdale, NY - March 18, 2016 -  With only days left until the state budget deadline, a group of Long Island local- and county-level officials joined together today in Farmingdale today to announce the release of a series of resolutions and sign on letters urging the passage of statewide paid family leave this session. 17 Nassau and Suffolk County Legislators including every Democratic legislator in both bodies announced their support for paid family leave, while officials from four towns -- North Hempstead, Long Beach, East Hampton, and Southampton -- announced they would be passing local resolutions in support of a statewide paid family leave policy. 
Each of the letters and resolutions announced today called on state lawmakers to pass a paid family leave proposal similar to the one proposed by Gov. Cuomo and the State Assembly this session, including baseline elements such 12 weeks of pay at a 2/3 benefit level, job protection, and no small business carve out. 
Today’s press conference was the latest event in the “Long Islanders for Paid Family Leave” campaign that kicked off two weeks earlier with a press conference featuring Long Island state lawmakers in Hempstead.
Driven by their own personal family experiences and the experiences of their constituents, the local elected officials who participated in today’s event spoke out about the need for leadership on this issue in Albany as the budget deadline approaches.
“No one should have to choose between paying the bills and taking care of a sick family member. We need comprehensive action at the state level to guarantee paid sick leave for all of New York’s hardworking families. Thank you to all my fellow local elected officials who have joined me today in standing up for Long Island’s middle class. Our message to Albany is clear: the time for action is now,” said Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory.
“Eventually, nearly every family faces an illness that not only takes an emotional toll, but causes a true financial hardship on those who must miss work to care for a sick child, spouse or parent. Establishing a statewide paid family medical leave policy will ensure that financial stability doesn’t hinge on luck or good fortune and that a loved one’s illness won’t lead financial ruin. The current lack of a universal policy fails New York’s workers, hurts its families and weakens local business that must develop their own strategies, on a case by case basis, for dealing with employees who face these unavoidable situations,” said Suffolk County Legislature Majority Leader Kara Hahn.
“Americans value family life, and we also need to support them. It is not only enough to give them the time they need to take care of children, spouses or ailing parents, but to compensate them so that they do not fall behind in their wages. Economic anxiety affects too many families and paid family leave is one way to help alleviate that burden,” said Suffolk County Legislature Deputy Presiding Officer Rob Calarco.
In the current economic climate, it is often not feasible for families to survive off of only one income. People who must work to provide for their families are finding it increasingly challenging to meet the demands of both family and work. Adopting a Paid Family Leave program will allow families who are struggling to make ends meet to spend the necessary time with their newborn or ill family member. Similar programs which have been adopted in other states have proven beneficial to employers by allowing them to retain valuable, trained, and experienced staff. It is time for New York to recognize the changing demographics of the workforce and adapt to provide the needed time to care for children or sick family members,” said Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker.
"Raising a child or caring for a loved one should not have to be a choice, it should be a right. I stand in support of allowing working families to be able to put family first without jeopardizing their job. It's the right thing to do,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning.
“Paid family leave is long overdue in New York State. Every day, millions of residents are forced to choose between caring for a loved one in need and their own financial security. As the population ages, the struggles faced by family caregivers will continue to grow, which is why it is vitally important for the New York State Legislature to immediately enact paid family leave during this year’s legislative session,” said Suffolk County Legislator Lou D’Amaro.
“Coming from the private sector, I understand the necessity of paid family leave not only as a morally sound policy but as a smart business practice.This is a desired benefit that the entire workforce pays into and comes at no additional cost to the business owners. If a family loses their source of income in the event of a necessary leave, the entire economy then pays the price. Paid family leave is good business for all New Yorkers," said Suffolk County Legislator William J. Lindsay III.
“I commend Governor Cuomo and the state legislature for advancing this vital measure to New Yorkers. Paid Family Leave will assist New York working families – especially constituents in my community – balance the costs and challenges of caring for their families while working,” said Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez.
“American workers should not have to choose between a paycheck and their loved ones. Providing the ability and the economic means for our workforce to care for a newborn or a sick family member without the fear and pressure of losing their livelihood will improve home-work life balance and our communities. I am proud the get behind this bill and I'm thankful that our Governor is leading the way,” said Suffolk County Legislator William R. Spencer, M.D. 
“I join with my colleagues in urging the Republican controlled State Senate to do more than talk about family values, but to do something to provide real support for families. It is long past time for New York families to have the protection provided by Paid Family Leave to ensure that when a family member is sick, when a baby is born or adopted or an emergency happens, people can care for the their loved ones without worrying about paying their bills,” said Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern.
"I might be a County Legislator but my greatest and most important job is that of being a father; and  that job is also my greatest adventure. Each day I have no idea what fatherhood is gonna throw at me, but I'm certainly lucky to have an employer that understands if I have to run to a school to pick up my sick kid. I filed a Paid Family Leave bill nearly two years ago in Nassau County, because I know that not everyone is afforded the ability to take a day off, with pay to take care of a sick child or parent. Nassau families need  New York State to pass Paid Family Leave now,” said Kevan Abrahams, Nassau County Democratic Minority Legislative Leader.
"While I have always supported Paid Family Leave, recently I was reminded just how important it really is when my father was rushed into the hospital. Unlike many families, my sister and I were able to drop what we were doing and be at our father's bedside. Most people cannot afford to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child, but some cannot even afford to take a day off to head to the hospital to be at their parents bedside like I was afforded. Paid family leave benefits are essential to all workers, because just like us they are parents and children too,” said Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum.
“Paid family leave – at NO cost to the employer – will allow employees to be there for their families' most important moments. It should not be a privilege just for the wealthy, yet this is the status quo for 6.4 million New Yorkers. This is why I am proud to have signed onto the Nassau and Suffolk County Legislatures' letter to get a strong paid family leave bill--one that doesn't carve out any workers, regardless of business size--passed in 2016. I hope our state level elected officials are paying attention, and will do right by their constituents immediately," said Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran.
"I was blessed last year that the nature of my work allowed me to spend time with my father before he passed. He was such a powerful influence in my life and I could not be where I am now without his steadfast support. Too many workers today don't have that kind of opportunity, to support sick loved ones, care for new children or spend time with a dying parent. On behalf of daughters, mothers, sisters and really all workers across New York, I call on the legislature to create paid family leave now. Each day we wait, real people lose something so important. Let's get this done, New York," said North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan.
“I continue to voice my support for the Paid Family Leave Act and stand with Governor Cuomo in this extremely important endeavor. Every day, hard-working New Yorkers are faced with unconscionable financial decisions due to family medical issues: the choice of working, or caring for a sick relative or bonding with a new baby. The Paid Family Leave Act ensures that workers will no longer have to miss these important moments in life. It is high time we pass this legislation and it should be the great State of New York to lead the way. I strongly urge the residents of the State of New York to contact their legislators and join with me in voicing their support for the Paid Family Leave Act and I urge the New York State Legislature to pass this bill,” said Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland.
"“It is a tragedy that, right now, millions of New Yorkers are forced to choose between taking care of a loved one and extreme financial hardship. Fifty percent of new mothers are only able to take up to a week to care for a new child and heal after childbirth,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.
“I was proud to sponsor and the East Hampton Town Board was equally honored to pass a resolution calling on our NYS elected officials to pass a strong paid family leave bill in 2016. It is heartbreaking when thousands of Long Island families must choose between bringing home a paycheck or caring for a sick family member or bonding with their new born baby. We can do better. All New Yorkers deserve paid family leave benefits regardless of the size of their employer or their salary,” said East Hampton Councilwoman Sylvia Overby.
“In 2016, we should not punish employees for time off to take care of a dying parent or a new born baby. This is a fight that New York needs to lead, so families don’t have to choose between their families and their careers. The time for paid family leave is now,” said North Hempstead Town Councilman Peter Zuckerman.
"FMLA from the federal government was a good start, but in reality, New Yorkers can not afford to take time off unpaid. A great bill would protect all working New Yorkers by paying two-thirds of their weekly wage, for up to 12 weeks. I'm very proud to stand unanimous with the entire Long Beach City Council in support of paid family leave," said Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo.
"It's become more and more difficult to raise a family here on Long Island and Long Islanders shouldn't need to endure financial hardship to take care of their kids or family members when they get sick. This is an issue that affects the pocketbooks of millions of families here in New York and has left the deck particularly stacked against working women, half of whom can only take up to a week of leave after having a newborn baby or while caring for an ailing family member. It's long past time we passed paid family leave to help level the playing field for Long Island families," said Former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst.
“Our country is at its best when we utilize the God- given abilities of all of our people. Right now, our economy is held back when those who wish to work are not able to because they fear that they will have to choose between their family needs and their work responsibilities. Family leave legislation ensures that New Yorkers are able to both care for their family and provide for their family,” said Former Chair of the Suffolk County Planning Commission Dave Colone.
"Every year, thousands of Long Island families must forgo caring for a loved one--be it a dying parent or a new baby--in order to make a paycheck. This is unacceptable. I am proud to stand beside the local elected officials from across Long Island who are standing up and taking action, especially as the Long Island Senate delegation has so failed to lead on this critical family issue," said Nick Guarilia (Candidate for State Assembly District 16).
"I am encouraged to see local officials from across Long Island stand up and take action, especially as the Long Island Senate delegation has so failed to lead on this critical family issue over the past decade," said Ryan Cronin (Candidate for State Senate District 6).
"The 250,000 nurses and healthcare workers of 1199SEIU in NY State strongly support paid family leave, so that working people can care for their loved ones in times of need. This is about true family values. Even though the United States is one of the richest countries in history, we are the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. Whether you need to care for a newborn, a sick child or an ailing parent, paid leave is vital ensuring dignity, security and a better future for New Yorkers," said Michele Lynch, Long Island Political Director for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in New York and the nation.
“Many families in Long Island live paycheck to paycheck, and they should not have to choose between making ends meet, and being able to welcome a new baby or take care of a sick relative. The Republican Senate majority claims to value families, but Senator Flanagan and his colleagues are demonstrating that they put business interests ahead of the people they’re supposed to represent. New Yorkers need a strong Paid Family Leave bill that allows 12 weeks of leave at a two-thirds pay rate,” said SEIU 32BJ president Hector Figueroa.
“In these difficult economic times for so many working families, they should not have to choose between taking care of a sick family member and keeping their job. Nor should they have to choose between paying their rent and caring for a loved one's last days! That is why CWA is grateful that we have local elected leaders from across Long Island stand with those Working Families by taking action. Their action stands in stark contrast to the inaction that we have seen from our Long Island Senate delegation on this critical family issue,” said Michael Gendron, Executive Vice President of CWA Local 1108.
“The United States is the only developed nation in the world without guaranteed, paid parental leave. New York State has the opportunity to provide these benefits and pass a strong paid family leave bill this year. We commend our local elected officials on sponsoring local legislation that will cover workers,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.
"No New Yorker should ever have to choose between caring for a newborn child or a sick parent and paying their bills. Paid family leave is the right thing to do for Long Island working families, and it receives massive support across regional and demographic lines in poll after poll. Long Island families can't wait another year. We join them in urging the State Senate to do right by their constituents and pass paid family leave this session," said Bill Lipton, Director of New York Working Families.
"We are thrilled by the actions of Long Island's local and county elected officials, who today joined the statewide chorus calling for the establishment of a paid family leave insurance program through the New York State budget process. A strong program that provides all private sector workers with up to 12 weeks of job protected paid family leave is needed to ensure Long Island working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and a paycheck," said Eric Williams, Campaign Director, New York Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign.