Today, Vice President Joe Biden joined New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo on stage at the McBurney YMCA in New York City to help lead the charge for paid family leave in New York. The rally was attended by hundreds of union workers and advocates, and included remarks by State Senator Jeffrey Klein, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and activist Christy Turlington, founder of Every Mother Counts.
A Better Balance was in attendance, along with advocates Dimitajo, featured in our 2015 report Investing in Our Families: The Case for Paid Family Leave in New York and the Nation, and DeBorah, who contacted us recently because her employer has made her “jump through hoops” to take time off to care for her beloved brother Stephen. Stephen lives in a group home for developmentally disabled adults and relies on DeBorah to oversee his care. “I only get five personal days off from my job each year,” she said, “and I need some of them to take care of my own health and visit my doctors. My vacation time is subject to the scheduling whims of my employer, and I’ve been denied FMLA leave because the law does not cover siblings caring for each other.”
Governor Cuomo’s proposal for paid family leave in New York State would ensure that workers like Dimitajo and DeBorah could be there for their loved ones in times of need without entering financial dire straits. “To help working families, we need to help them take off the time they need,” the Vice President said.
While the United States remains one of only three nations in the world that does not mandate paid family leave at the federal level, California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have successfully implemented such programs by integrating family leave into their respective temporary disability insurance programs. If passed, New York’s would be the “most aggressive” in the nation, Cuomo said, providing workers with twelve weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child or care for a sick family member, including a sibling, and would be funded by employee contributions.
“You shouldn’t have to choose between losing your job and being with your family!” Cuomo said. “This is in everyone’s interest,” Biden added, “including the employer[‘s]. Let’s get it done!”