At today’s State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced several legislative proposals to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, several of which follow recommendations A Better Balance proposed during testimony offered last month before the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
The U.S. remains the only economically advanced country with no paid leave or paid time off guarantees for workers. A Better Balance is fighting to change that by creating new state laws for paid family leave, paid sick time, and more—and working to make those laws models for a federal solution.
Just last week, Connecticut passed the country’s eighth paid family and medical leave law, joining 7 states and Washington, D.C.! The law guarantees 12 weeks of leave with a generous wage replacement level and job protection, ensuring that workers can actually take the time. And, we’re thrilled that the law follows ABB’s model for an inclusive family definition—which means workers can use the time to care for any of their loved ones, regardless of whether they’re legally/biologically related. This inclusive family definition will benefit LGBTQ families, people with disabilities and their loved ones, older adults, immigrant and multi-generational families, among others.
The victory was the product of tireless work by the coalition on the ground, led by Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund and CT Working Families. And we were proud to work alongside them every step of the way, from drafting the bill, to providing research and advice on how to resolve and negotiate differences between the key stakeholders.
We’re also thrilled to report that in May, Maine became the first state in the country to require general paid time off for workers. Although there are 11 other states that require paid sick time for workers, this law gives workers time they can use for any purpose, including when the worker or a family member is sick. For months, we worked together with policymakers and the Maine People’s Alliance, the Southern Maine Workers Center, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and the rest of the coalition to ensure that this unique paid time off law would be available for sick time and protect workers from retaliation.
Besides improving the well-being of thousands of working families in CT and ME, it’s laws like these that help pave the way for eventual federal solutions. These victories are both huge steps forward in our continuing effort to ensure that all workers can take time to care for themselves and their families without risking their economic security.