Long Island Elected Officials Launch “Long Islanders for Paid Family Leave”

Kelly Tenny, News LI

Hempstead, N.Y. – Today, Long Island elected officials joined with a diverse array of organizations from across Long Island to announce the launch of “Long Islanders for Paid Family Leave,” a campaign to urge New York state to pass paid family leave this year. With 6.3 million New Yorkers lacking access to paid leave, speakers at today’s event urged Albany to stand with Long Island families and pass landmark paid family leave legislation this year so that no New Yorker has to choose between paying their bills and caring for a newborn child or a loved one. The event took place at Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, an organization that has long fought for women’s health issues, including paid family leave. Over the next few weeks, the campaign will engage Long Island families as the legislative session proceeds through a series of town halls and other events to build momentum for paid family leave across Long Island.

Recent polling shows that paid family leave continues to receive deep and widespread support from voters across regions and demographics in New York state. A January Siena poll showed that 80% of New Yorkers support the paid family leave proposal proposed by Gov. Cuomo, including 77% of suburban voters, 69% of conservative voters, and 79% of self-identified moderates.

“No New Yorker should have to choose between their family and their job. Yet millions of men and women do not have a job that offers paid family leave, forcing new mothers to go back to work too early, preventing new dads from caring for their newborns, and keeping loved ones apart at times of great need. The vast majority of these hard-working New Yorkers are lower- or middle-income workers, who should have the same ability to care for their family as any other New Yorker. New York must look out for these workers and pass paid family leave,” said Assemblymember Todd Kaminsky.

“It should never be a choice between caring for a seriously ill loved one or risk financial hardship. New York must do better. We must support our families by enacting paid family leave,” said Assemblymember Michelle Schimel.

“As a new parent to a beautiful and thriving baby girl, I realize how important it is for parents to be able to spend time with their newborns. A child needs to feel nurtured and loved from the very beginning of their lives. This is why I am in favor of parents having the ability to take time off from their job without any negative repercussions in order to care for their child. I also believe that a family member should not be penalized for taking time off from work to care for an ill loved one. We cannot foresee the unfortunate and saddening sickness that a loved one may develop, therefore it is important that workers have leniency at their jobs in times of hardship. Caring for a loved one in a time of illness should not be a luxury only for the rich. If I had access to paid family leave years ago, it would have relieved the burden I felt of not being able to spend more time with my ill loved one while I was at work. There is nothing worse than lost time when you have a family member who is gravely ill,” said Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre.

“Our ability to care for those we love in times of need should never depend on the size of our bank accounts. Yet this will remain the status quo for millions of New Yorkers. It’s time New York places family and workforce security first by ensuring twelve weeks of paid leave with at least a two -thirds wage replacement rate. Paid Family Leave will bolster not only our economy, but give a boost to those who need it the most, our caregivers and working families,” said Assemblymember MIchaelle Solages.

“Paid family leave is a benefit enjoyed by every civilized Nation except for the United States. How can any elected official claim to stand for family values when their policies have separated a mother from her newborn because she can’t afford to take off from work? It is time that the State of New York step up to the plate to ensure that families can raise their newborn children without temporarily losing their income,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine.

“Most people cannot afford to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child. Paid family leave benefits are essential for workers to remain in the workforce and still receive income while caring for their family members,” said Nassau County Legislator Ellen W. Birnbaum.

“Paid family leave – at NO cost to the employer – will allow employees to be there for their families for life’s most important moments. Family leave should not be a privilege just for the wealthy. All New Yorkers need this benefit,” said Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran.

“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,” said Anthony Eramo, Long Beach City Councilmember.

“The reality is working families are forced to choose between taking care of a newborn child, a sick child or parent on a daily basis. No one should have to choose between taking care of one’s family or losing the means to financially support them. Family matters and laws in New York State must restore this value. As a community college educator, I have witnessed the need for paid family leave. Every semester a college student is forced to leave school mid semester in order to take care of an ailing grandparent because his or her parent cannot afford to stay home. Paid family leave can be the difference between keeping families in the underclass or giving families economic stability,” said Anissa Moore, Long Beach City Councilmember.

“My family and I personally know how paid family leave can impact your family and how the lack thereof can disrupt your entire household and quality of life. Having a good policy like the Paid Family Leave Act will ensure that families will not be faced with the life or death decision that I had to make. It will be life changing for so many working families in the state of New York,” said Viviana Russell, North Hempstead Town Councilmember.

“As a wife and mother, I know the stresses that come with trying to balance family life and work even in the best of circumstances. New Yorkers should not have to choose between keeping their jobs and supporting a sick family member in case of emergency or developing a bond with a newborn. As an immigrant who has gone on to become an elected official, I believe there is a need to keep making New York and our country a better and more affordable place to live, work and raise a family. I will do everything in my power to make paid family leave a reality and will not stop fighting until it’s done,” said Anna Kaplan, North Hempstead Town Councilmember.

“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.

“The people of New York shouldn’t have to choose between taking care of a loved one and losing their job. As a pre-eminent healthcare provider in Nassau County, we have seen first-hand how our patients have been forced to make choices out of fear of jeopardizing their employment. This does not have to be the reality. Planned Parenthood of Nassau County proudly supports Paid Family Leave for all workers in New York State,” said JoAnn D. Smith, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Nassau County.

“In the wealthiest country in the world, no American parent should be forced to choose between caring for their sick child and keeping their job. Paid family is essential,” said Brian Ahlberg, President of Every Child Matters.

“As a husband and a new father, I can say from experience that paid family leave is critically important for New York families. I do not know what we would have done last year if my wife had not had the opportunity to stay home with our newborn for the first twelve weeks. Many families are not so lucky. But this should not be a matter of luck. It is time for our country, and for our state, to join the rest of the industrialized world in providing paid family leave,” said Ryan Cronin, Candidate for New York State Senate, 6th District.

“We must stand up for our 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,” said Adam Haber, Candidate for New York State Senate, 7th District.

“When my brother and my sister in law were injured in a car accident last year, I wasn’t able to take any time off to give them a hand. We shouldn’t have to choose between feeding our families and taking care of them when they need us. That’s an impossible choice for so many Long Island families, and even more so for single mothers like me. It’s only fair for workers in New York state to provide for their families by being there for them,” said Maria Arango, who’s worked as a cleaner at New York Institute of Technology for two decades and is a member of SEIU 32BJ.

“Working families should not have to choose between taking care of a sick family member and keeping their job. Nor should working families have to choose between paying their rent and caring for a loved one’s last days!” said Michael Gendron, Executive Vice President, CWA Local 1108.

“No one should have to choose between caring for their families or financially supporting them. We applaud the Governor’s paid family leave proposal as it will allow hard working New Yorkers to take the time they need to be with their family without the fear of falling behind on basic necessities,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.

“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.

“Citizens and electeds on Long Island are joining the statewide chorus calling for the establishment of a paid family leave insurance program in New York as part of the budget process. A strong program that provides all private sector workers with up to 12 weeks of job protected paid leave is what is needed to be sure Long Island working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and a pay check,” said Eric Williams, Campaign Director, NY Paid Family Leave Insurance Campaign

“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,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

“Family leave insurance will provide essential support for the working families of New York. This is an important step toward building a society in which people are supported in their family-planning decisions and care taking responsibilities. For less than a cup of coffee a week, this measure will provide financial stability for New York families who need it most,” said Jason Starr, Long Island Director of New York Civil Liberties Union.

Originally Published March 4, 2016 News LI