Cuomo visits West Haverstraw on paid family leave/minimum wage push


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday in West Haverstraw announced that more than 70 prominent elected officials, labor leaders, community-based organizations, advocacy groups from throughout the Hudson Valley have joined the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign to fight for passage of paid family leave in New York State.

These individuals and groups are endorsing the governor’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid benefits, funded by employees, 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.

Cuomo visited West Haverstraw Village Hall with supportive public officials to help spearhead his campaign.

“Our paid family leave proposal is the strongest in the country because that’s what New York represents,” said Governor Cuomo. “We believe in opportunity and mobility for all, and we stand up for working families. The sweetest success is shared success, and that’s why we’re fighting for a paid family leave policy that benefits all of New York’s families.”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey said: “I’m pleased to support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide economic security and improve work-life balance for New Yorkers. If we truly value family, we should honor the bonds between mothers and fathers with their new babies, between children and sick parents, and other family ties by ensuring economic security for paid leave. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have been fighting for federal investments for states to establish paid family and medical leave programs, and I’m a proud cosponsor of the FAMILY Act, which would provide paid family and medical leave to employees nationwide. I will continue working to ensure individuals are not forced to choose between caring for a family member in need and making ends meet.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said: “I applaud Governor Cuomo for making paid family sick leave a priority, as I believe this issue is absolutely critical for New York families. At the federal level, I am a co-sponsor of HR 1439, the FAMILY Act, which would guarantee robust, paid family and medical leave across the country. Hopefully we will be able to pass this important legislation for every American, but it is reassuring to know that New York is not waiting around for the Republicans in Congress to move on the issue.”

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said: “When my kids were babies, I was able to care for them. After my father passed, I was able to be there for my mother. None of my neighbors in the Hudson Valley should have to decide whether to put food on the table or care for a newborn child or elderly parents. I’m proud to join Governor Cuomo to ensure that all New Yorkers can care for their loved ones without worrying about jeopardizing their jobs or their paychecks.”

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Together we can make sure that New York stands up for our families. 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.

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski said: “Caring for a loved one or child isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity. I am working with Governor Cuomo to make sure New York families have the reasonable ability to deal with emergencies.”

Antoinette Klatzky and Noelle Damico, Co-Chairs of the Westchester Women’s Agenda, said: “Time spent caring for a sick loved one or a newborn baby should be cherished, but restricted access to paid family leave is forcing many in our community to sacrifice these precious moments. No New Yorker should live in fear of losing their job or wages during these important moments and under this commonsense proposal, they won’t have to. Governor Cuomo has stood up for the working families in our community and I proudly stand with him.”

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein said: “Paid family leave is good for our community and good for our economy. Governor Cuomo’s thoughtful proposal will advance the fight for pay equity for women, give low-income New Yorkers a better chance at success, and support the development of healthy babies. By passing this proposal this session, the State Legislature will ensure New York is a stronger state for generations to come.”

Elizabeth Zimmerman, Co-President of Westchester NOW, said: “Access to paid family leave is a critical issue that affects all working men and women, especially minorities and lower-income employees. The Governor’s paid family leave plan will give these New Yorkers greater job security and peace of mind while spending time with a sick family member or newborn baby. This plan is a progressive step towards securing a stronger workforce in our community and I am proud to support it.” ​

Milan Bhatt, Executive Director of the Community Resource Center, said: “A strong workforce is the backbone of a strong economy, which is why we must continue to fight for the hardworking men and women of our community. Governor Cuomo’s plan will allow these workers to support their families both financially and emotionally in times of need. New York is once again leading the way in fight for worker justice and I am proud to support this proposal.”

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

  1. Congresswoman Nita Lowey
    2. Congressman Eliot Engel
    3. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney
    4. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus
    5. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein
    6. Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro
    7. Sullivan County Chairman of the Legislature Luis Alvarez
    8. City of New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson
    9. City of Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker
    10. City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy
    11. City of Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano
    12. City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
    13. City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano
    14. Village of Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander
    15. Village of Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White
    16. Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers
    17. Town of Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips
    18. Village of West Haverstraw Mayor Robert D’Amelio
    19. Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia
    20. Westchester Legislator Ken Jenkins
    21. Westchester Legislator Alfrida Williams
    22. Westchester Legislator MaryJane Shimsky
    23. Westchester Legislator Catherine Parker
    24. Westchester Legislator Lyndon Williams
    25. Westchester Legislator Ben Boyken
    26. Town of Bedford Supervisor Chris Burdick
    27. Town of Ramapo Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence
    28. Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato
    29. Yonkers City Council Minority Leader Michael Sabatino
    30. Yonkers City Council Member Christopher Johnson
    31. Yonkers City Council Member Corazon Pineda
    32. City of Mount Vernon Mayor Rich Thomas
    33. Mount Vernon City Council President Marcus Griffith
    34. Mount Vernon City Council Member Roberta Apuzza
    35. City of White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach
    36. Village of Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell
    37. Town of Ossining Council Member Kim Geoffrey
    38. Town of Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg
    39. Town of Bedford Council Member Lee Roberts
    40. Town of Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner
    41. Town of Greenburgh Town Clerk Judith Beville
    42. Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Nancy Seligson
    43. Westchester BOL Chair Michael Kaplowitz
    44. Village of Ossinning Trustee Quantel Bazemore
    45. Westchester Putnam Central Labor Council President Ryan Paul
    46. Westchester Putnam Building & Construction Trades Council President Edward Doyle
    47. IUOE Local 137Business Manager Jeff Laughlin
    48. Teamsters Local 456 President Lou Picani
    49. IBEW Local 1430 President Jordan El-Hag
    50. UFCW Local One President Frank DeRiso
    51. UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both
    52. UA Local 21 Business Manager Frank Palen
    53. Rockland Building & Construction Trades Council President Jordan Maraia
    54. Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation President Paul Ellis-Graham
    55. RWDSU Local 338 Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Fontano
    56. 1199 SEIU Executive Vice President Maria Kercado
  2. Yonkers Firefighters Local 628 President Barry McGoey
    58. Westchester Disabled on the Move, Inc. Executive Director Mel Tanzman
    59. Don Bosco Workers Inc.
    60. Neighbors Link Community Center
    61. Hispanic Resource Center of Mamaroneck
    62. LOFT : Lesbian and Gay Community Services
    63. Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester
    64. Westchester Women’s Agenda
    65. Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
    66. NOW – Westchester
    67. Hope’s Door
    68. Center for Safety and Change
  3. Head Start of Rockland
    70. Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union
    71. Urban League of Westchester County, Inc.

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 breakdown of workers in the Hudson Valley currently making either minimum wage or $15 per hour: 91,665 making $9 per hour and 281,104 earning less than $15 per hour.

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.

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.

For more information on the Governor’s proposal and the Strong Families, Strong New York campaign, please visit


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