17 Community and Advocacy Groups Join The “Strong Families, Strong New York” Campaign and Endorse Governor’s Paid Family Leave Proposal

In February 26, 2016

NYS Built to Lead

For Immediate Release: 2/17/2016 GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO

Governor Cuomo Announces NAACP, Make The Road, NY Communities For Change, A Better Balance, and 13 Community And Advocacy Groups Join The “Strong Families, Strong New York” Campaign and Endorse Governor’s Paid Family Leave Proposal

Proposal would ensure 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave for caring for a new child or seriously ill relative – the longest such benefits period in the nation

Proposal would benefit millions of New Yorkers – especially women, minorities and low-income workers – and strengthen workforce and economy overall

New Yorkers encouraged to visit www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave to get involved and learn more about the Strong Families, Strong New York campaign

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Conference of the NAACP, Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, A Better Balance, and 13 other advocacy and community-based organizations have joined the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign to fight for passage of paid family leave in New York State. These groups are endorsing the Governor’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid benefits to allow workers to care for new children or seriously ill relatives. The Governor’s proposal would benefit millions of New Yorkers – especially women, minorities and low-income workers who need it most – in addition to businesses and the economy overall, and would be the most robust such policy in the nation.

“If a loved one is sick or dying, or if you have a new child, you should be able to take the time to support them without risking your family’s basic economic security. Everyone deserves that decency,” said Governor Cuomo. “This is an issue of basic fairness for working families – and that’s why I’m proud to be fighting for paid family leave. We’re going to say to the rest of this nation you follow New York to a fairer future for all of us.”

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said: “No one in this great state should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and potentially losing their job or ability to support themselves. That is why the Senate Democrats have made passing a real paid family leave program a top priority, and I commend Governor Cuomo for his support of this essential initiative. I am confident that this is the year we will even the odds for New York’s hard working residents and finally pass a meaningful paid family leave program.”

Assemblyman Keith Wright said: “I have fought for Harlem all my life. I have seen how difficult it can be for single moms and single dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles in our community who not only work, but who care for their loved ones. The Governor’s paid family leave proposal would make a fundamental difference to those people, and to millions more like them throughout this state. I am proud to be fighting alongside Governor Cuomo for New York’s working families – together we will continue to move this state forward.”

The list of groups endorsing the Governor’s proposal today includes:

  • New York State Conference of the NAACP
  • Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
  • New York Communities for Change
  • Make the Road New York
  • A Better Balance
  • Community Service Society
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  • LiveOn NY
  • Children’s Defense Fund-New York
  • The Empire State Pride Agenda
  • Women’s City Club of NY
  • Legal Momentum
  • Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly/ACACIA Network
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • New York City Mission Society
  • Coalition for Asian American Children & Families
  • United Way of New York City

Federal law currently provides only for unpaid family leave, and creates a dilemma for those caught between the need to care for a sick relative or newborn and the pressure to return to work and earn money. Moreover, federal unpaid family leave only covers approximately 60 percent of all workers. Furthermore, 88 percent of American workers do not have access to paid family leave – including those who need it most, such as those living paycheck to paycheck. A regional breakdown of workers currently making either minimum wage or $15 an hour is below:


Workers Earning Current Minimum Wage of $9.00 Workers Earning Under $15.00
New York City 261,900 927,400

The Governor’s twelve week proposed paid leave program will be the most robust program in the nation, because it provides double the length of paid leave than provided by any other State program, as well as a high benefit amount. Specifically, after a short ramp-up period, workers will be entitled to 67 percent of their average weekly wage, with a maximum of 67 percent of the State’s average weekly wage, which is estimated to be in excess of $1,000 per week by 2021. This program will ensure that workers will be able to afford to take vital bonding time with their newborns and provide care to sick relatives.
Paid family leave helps women, minorities, and low-income workers. For families living paycheck to paycheck, taking extended periods of unpaid leave is often unfeasible. Statewide, more than 39 percent of single mothers with at least one child under the age of 18 lived below the poverty line. Additionally, women and minorities are each overrepresented in both state and national poverty rates.

It is well established that paid family leave leads to healthier babies. An expansion of family leave has been found to increase birth weight, decrease premature birth, and lead to a substantial decrease in infant mortality. This is particularly important to reducing racial and ethnic disparities. In 2012, the mortality rate for white infants was just 3.7 for every thousand live births – but it was 5.27 for Hispanic infants and 8.96 for black infants.

California’s paid family leave program more than doubled the overall use of maternity leave – increasing it from around three to six or seven weeks for the typical new mother. The program significantly reduced disparities in who could take advantage of family leave, leading to an increase (in leave taking) of threefold for non-college educated mothers, fivefold for single mothers, and sevenfold for racial minorities.

Paid family leave helps reduce demands on public assistance. Loss of income for New Yorkers who have to care for a sick family member or a new baby can lead to serious hardship, which can lead to increased demand for state support, funded by taxpayers. Enacting paid family funded by employee payroll deductions is smart policy because it can help more working families make ends meet without public assistance. Currently, Medicaid and other forms of public assistance cover 60 percent of births in New York City.

Paid family leave helps businesses. Providing paid family leave also has numerous benefits for employers. Research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that paid family leave helps businesses retain workers and avoid turnover – which ultimately helps reduce recruitment and training costs. Having access to paid family leave can also boost productivity, engagement, and loyalty among a business’ employees.

Paid family leave strengthens the economy. Increasing access to paid family leave will result in a stronger economy and workforce. When working parents or caregivers are able to remain in the workforce while tending to children or sick loved ones, they are also more likely to continue progressing in their careers and increasing their wages over time. This in turn yields greater support for their families, greater economy activity in their communities, and a more vibrant workforce overall. Additionally, paid family leave helps address the gaps in opportunity faced by low-income, minority and less educated workers.

Paid family leave has widespread public support. In a recent poll conducted by the Roosevelt Institute, the vast majority – 83 percent – of respondents supported paid family leave. That support crossed party lines, with 96 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of Independents and 67 percent of Republicans voicing support. Additionally, in a business survey after California’s paid family leave policy had been in effect for five years, 91 percent of employers reported the effect of the policy was either not noticeable or positive.

“New York has always led the progressive causes – from women’s rights to civil rights to gay rights, we have led the movements and showed the nation that change was possible. And with Governor Cuomo, we are going to do it again by passing paid family leave,” said Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP. “The simple, unacceptable truth is that millions of Americans are forced to risk their basic economic security just to care for their families. Paid family leave will change that, and on behalf of the NAACP I am proud to join the Governor in standing up for New York’s working families.”

“Paid family leave is crucial to building a society that actually supports working families – and it is absolutely vital if we want to break down the barriers that have held low-income families, minority families, and women-led households back for too long,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Organizations. “Governor Cuomo’s 12 week proposal is exactly what we need to accomplish that goal, and I am proud to sign on to his campaign and fight to make sure this proposal becomes reality.”

“We thank Governor Cuomo for proposing a strong paid family leave bill that recognizes just how essential paid family leave is for thousands of New York families struggling to care for a new baby or seriously ill loved one,” said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance. “At A Better Balance, we see firsthand how devastating it can be when families cannot afford to take time off to care for their loved ones when needed most. No one should have to choose between a day’s pay or caring for a loved one. We are deeply heartened by the Governor’s leadership, and after years of tireless advocacy by our fellow advocates and the New York State Assembly, are hopeful that paid family leave will finally become a reality in 2016.”

“Today, New York is taking a giant step forward in the fight for worker justice,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change. “We are ecstatic that Governor Cuomo’s Paid Family Leave program will be the most robust in the nation, and that no longer will any New Yorker have to choose between caring for their family and putting food on their table.”

“It is unacceptable that on a daily basis New Yorkers are faced with the reality of having to sacrifice their income in order to care for a loved one in need,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Low-income workers are faced with a decision in which both options- taking unpaid leave or not caring for a loved one- lead to devastating consequences. It is important that Governor Cuomo is taking steps to implement a paid family leave program in New York State and we commend and support his efforts.

“Paid family leave is a vital tool to ensuring that parents have the resources and support they need to raise healthy families,” said Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal provides employment protection that parents need to take the time to bond and breastfeed – both of which make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a child’s development. New York will be a safer and stronger place to live and work when parents no longer have to decide between taking care of their families and their economic security.”

“LiveOn NY applauds Governor Cuomo for hearing the thousands of conversations around kitchen tables of New Yorkers facing hard decisions in caring for their elderly parents, spouse or others,” said Igal Jellinek, Executive Director, LiveOn NY. “Every day, too many caregivers, particularly women, have to face difficult challenges of juggling the responsibilities of caregiving for one’s parents and work. Support for these family caregivers is the workforce issue of the 21st century. The time is now for the passage of a meaningful paid family leave act in New York State.”

“Spending time with a new baby, sick child or ailing parent shouldn’t be a privilege for those of means,” said Samantha Levine, Acting Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York. “Unfortunately, too many workers – particularly low-wage workers and men and women of color – do not have access to paid family leave. Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal will allow working men and women to take care of those they love without compromising their income or job security and sends the important message that, in New York, family matters.”

Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York continues to lead the nation in promoting equal rights and opportunity for all,” said Carol Robles-Roman, President of Legal Momentum. “Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive paid family leave proposal is an important step forward for women and working families who have been left out and left behind for far too long by ensuring that working parents never have to choose between caring for their families and making ends meet. We applaud Governor Cuomo in his fight for paid family leave and strongly urge the State Legislature to pass his plan this session.

“The time for paid family leave is long overdue,” said Margaret Fung, Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Many people, especially low-income immigrant women, can’t afford to take unpaid time off to care for their families, and they risk losing their jobs if they do. Governor Cuomo’s proposal for job-protected paid family leave is an important first step toward lifting up working families and ensuring economic opportunity for millions of New Yorkers.”

Every day, immigrants in New York from Brentwood to Buffalo are forced to choose between caring for a family member and putting food on the table. This is simply not in line with the values of this state. Thankfully, Governor Cuomo’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave provides ease during some of a person’s toughest times, with no cost to employers,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “We believe this can truly be a win-win for all who make New York their home – including its four million immigrant residents – and are proud to support the Governor’s plan.

“Governor Cuomo is fighting for New York’s working families, including our Asian Pacific American families, by proposing the nation’s strongest paid family leave proposal – 12 weeks of paid leave,” said Sheelah A. Feinberg, Executive Director of Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. “Paid family leave will help our families, because it will not force anyone to choose between family and making ends meet. In times of joy and sorrow, we rely on spending time with our loved ones. Paid family leave will ensure that we can do so. We urge the State Legislature to pass the Governor’s proposal this session.”

“Governor Cuomo’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave is vital step forward towards moving families towards self-sufficiency throughout New York State,” said Sheena Wright, President and CEO, United Way of New York City. “Whether expected or unexpected, it is essential that people are able to be with their loved ones in times of need, without fear of losing their paycheck. We applaud the Governor for standing up for New York’s families and encourage the State Legislature to pass his proposal.”

“We applaud Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal that will transform the way many New Yorkers balance their familial duties and career responsibilities,” said Milagros Baez O’Toole, Board Chair Acacia Network and the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly. “As one of the largest non-profit organizations in the state, we understand the need to secure Hard-working New Yorkers the ability to care for their loved ones while keeping their pay and their job.”

“The measure speaks to a recognition that families in today’s society are struggling to make ends meet,” said Elsie McCabe Thompson, President of the New York City Mission Society. “At the New York City Mission Society, we work with young adults and families who often are faced with economic challenges. We are glad that Governor Cuomo is working to find a way to address these issues through this initiative.”

For more information on the Governor’s proposal and the Strong Families, Strong New York campaign, please visit www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave.