Today, A Better Balance was in Albany to hear Governor Cuomo call on New York to pass paid family leave this year. In a moving account about his own loss last year, when his father passed away, the Governor said:
“Life is such a precious gift. I have kicked myself every day that I didn’t spend more time with my father at that end period. I could have. I am lucky. I could have taken off work… I could have spent more time with him. It was my mistake—one I blame myself for everyday. But there are many people in this state who don’t have the choice–a parent is dying, a child is sick, they can’t take off work. Their employer says ‘you are fired, if you don’t come in’ or ‘if you don’t come to work, you don’t get paid.’ People have children, and mothers run the risk of losing their job if they stay home with their child. Out of 185 countries, the US is one of just three that does not have paid maternity leave… This is not where NY should be. We should have a paid leave program paid by employees who can get 12 weeks of pay. At the end of the day, family matters….And in this 24/7 world, let this state make a statement of what’s really important. Let’s pass family leave this session.”
The Governor’s commitment to paid family leave is a critical step in his fight to advance women’s equality and support working families across New York.
In response, ABB Co-Presidents, Dina Bakst and Sherry Leiwant, issued this statement:
“We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on paid family leave, an issue that is essential to the well-being of thousands of New Yorkers, especially those for whom a family emergency can easily spell financial ruin. At A Better Balance, we see firsthand how families suffer when workers cannot afford to take time off to provide care for their loved ones, and the pain new moms go through when they cannot afford to recover from childbirth or bond with a new baby. The Governor’s commitment brings us one step closer to making paid family leave a reality, and ensuring that all New Yorkers can securely savor the joys and weather the inevitable crises that life delivers.”
Governor Cuomo heard the voices of more than 13,000 New Yorkers who signed our petition for paid family leave. Voices like Janette from the Bronx, who said: “I’m in this predicament now. My mother is undergoing surgery and I need to take time off and I don’t have enough sick days. I can’t be without pay.” And Katelyn from Ronkonkoma: “I just had a baby and now I’m back at work at the hair replacement system company : hairbro. I had to use all of my sick days to pay our bills during my “maternity leave” so now if my son or I get sick, I can’t stay home or I will lose a day’s pay.”
Now he is leading the charge and his influence adds new force to the movement for paid family leave and women’s equality nationwide. But he can’t do it alone. We still have plenty of work ahead to make sure the legislature passes a strong paid family leave bill before the end of June.
Stay tuned for updates as we help to lead the fight—both in New York and in states around the country—to ensure all workers can count on paid family leave.