March 7, 2016
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Leading Women's Advocacy Groups Join the 'Strong Families, Strong New York' Campaign and Endorse Proposal for 12 Weeks of Paid Family Leave

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Leading Women's...

Long Island Elected Officials, Community Groups, Advocacy Organizations and Faith Leaders Endorse Proposal

Employee-funded 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 residents throughout New York State – especially women, minorities and low-income workers – and strengthen workforce and economy overall


New Yorkers encouraged to visit 'Strong Families, Strong New York' website to learn more and get involved

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that several of the state’s leading women's advocacy groups, including the National Organization for Women, the Campaign for a Pro-Choice New York and the League of Women Voters of New York State, 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, 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. 

"Ensuring that all working men and women have access to paid family leave isn’t just good policy, it’s the right thing to do," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers should be able to be with their families in times of need without having to put their economic security at risk and that's exactly what this plan ensures. Family and community are two defining characteristics of this state and its time that we start living that way again."



National Organization for Women-NYS President Sonia Ossorio said, "Time spent with a newborn baby is important– not only for the child’s health, but for a mother's wellbeing as well. Unfortunately, too many working parents are forced to cut this time short because they do not have access to paid family leave. Governor Cuomo’s proposal would allow these parents to spend more time with their babies and give them a stronger, more holistic start from the very beginning. I’m proud to support this smart proposal because no one should have to choose between making a living and caring for their loved ones."

Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund and its Campaign for a Pro-Choice New York said, "Full equality for women is impossible without the ability to decide when and whether to have children – and the structural supports to exercise those rights. Governor Cuomo's paid family leave proposal would help families actualize their decision to parent by ensuring financial stability. No one should have to choose between making a living and planning the families they want to have."

League of Women Voters of NYS President Dare Thompson said, "The League of Women Voters applauds Governor Cuomo for pushing his 12-week paid family leave insurance program. When an employee is unable to work, the League believes that they should be entitled to income sufficient to meet basic human needs. We support the establishment of a paid family leave insurance which will benefit all employees, regardless of race or gender, should they face a family crisis."

Women's groups pushing for the passage of paid family leave in New York State include:

  • National Organization for Women (NOW) - NYS
  • National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund and its Campaign for a Pro-Choice New York
  • League of Women Voters – NY
  • Eleanor's Legacy
  • New York State Nurses Association
  • YWCA of New York City
  • Women's City Club of NY
  • Westchester Women's Agenda
  • NOW- Westchester
  • Hope's Door
  • A Better Balance
  • Legal Momentum
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
  • Girls Inc. of Long Island
  • American Association of University Women of New York State
  • American Association of University Women of Long Island
  • America Association of University Women of Rockland County Branch
  • SEPA Mujer
  • Women Builders Council
  • Womenservices & the Birthing Center of Buffalo
  • YWCA of Greater Rochester
  • Womensphere Foundation
  • 100 Hispanic Women National, Inc.

Additionally, numerous Long Island elected officials, community groups, advocacy organizations and faith leaders are supporting the Governor's plan.

Assemblyman Phil Ramos said, "Paid family leave is an issue of basic fairness and I commend Governor Cuomo for shining the spotlight it. All across this state, honest and hard-working New Yorkers are forced to make a choice between feeding their families and being with them when it matters the most and the time for change is now. Thankfully, no one understands the importance of family more than Governor Cuomo and I am proud to stand with him in support of New York’s working families."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "I support the fight for paid family leave, because no working families should have to sacrifice their financial security to tend to their loved ones in time of need. I applaud Governor Cuomo for leading the way on this fight and I am hopeful that New York will once again lead the nation by supporting progressive policies which improve quality of life for working men and women."

The Long Island elected officials, community groups, advocacy organizations and faith leaders are:

  • AARP
  • Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
  • Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer, DuWayne Gregory
  • Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning
  • Suffolk County Legislator Robert Calarco
  • Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn
  • Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez
  • Suffolk County Legislator William "Doc" Spencer
  • Nassau County Legislature Minority leader Kevan Abrahams
  • Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran
  • Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton
  • Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs
  • Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe
  • Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages
  • Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum
  • North Hempstead Councilwoman, Anna Kaplan
  • Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby
  • North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan
  • North Hemsptead Councilwoman Lee Seeman
  • North Hemsptead Councilwoman Vivianna Russell
  • Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall
  • Village of Hempstead Deputy Mayor Luis Figueroa
  • Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartwright
  • Long Island Jobs with Justice
  • Vision Long Island
  • Salvadoran American Chamber
  • Brentwood Chamber
  • The LGBT Network
  • Long Island Progressive Coalition
  • Long Island Council of Churches
  • Urban League of Long Island
  • Long Beach MLK
  • Hempstead Coordinating Council of Civic Associations
  • Korean American Family Service Center
  • Alzheimer's Resource Center of Long Island
  • Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association
  • Long Beach Latino Civic Association
  • Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY)
  • The Long Island LGBT Center (The Center)
  • Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elder-Long Island (SAGE-LI)
  • Long Island Pride
  • NY Asian Women's Center
  • Korean Family Service Center
  • Bethel A.M.E. Church of Copiague -- Pastor Keith Hayward
  • Calvary Baptist Church -- Reverend Erwin Trollinger
  • Centro Cristiano Renacer -- Pastor Carlos Sorto
  • Christian Gateway Church -- Pastor Emmanuel Asse
  • Christian Light Missionary Baptist -- Reverend Isaac Melton
  • Church of South Hempstead -- Reverend Patrick Duggan
  • Church of God Hempstead -- Pastor Eliezer Reyes
  • Eglise de Dieu de Baisley -- Pastor Pierre Windsor Joseph
  • First Baptist Church of Westbury -- Bishop Lionel Harvey
  • Franklin Outreach Ministries The Church Without Walls -- Reverend Lorraine Madry
  • Gateway Christian Center -- Reverend Frantz Metellus
  • Genesis Assembly of God -- Pastor Fernando Gomez
  • Harvest at the Atlantic Church of God Island Park -- Mark Beavers, Administrator
  • Horeb Christian Alliance -- Reverend Jean Romulus
  • Iglesia de Dios of Uniondale -- Pastor Amado Brito
  • Long Island Council of Churches -- Reverend Tom Goodhue
  • New Life Christ Church Long Beach -- Pastor Mark Moses
  • St. Mark Remnant Ministries Inc. -- Reverend Roderick Pearson

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 on Long Island currently making either minimum wage or $15 an hour is below:


Workers Earning Current Minimum Wage of $9.00

Workers Earning Under $15.00

Long Island



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.

Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said, "Governor Cuomo is once again standing with working families with his proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave and taking unprecedented step towards building the strong families that this state was founded on. This plan ensures that no New Yorker will ever again have to risk their paycheck just to be with a loved one in their time of need and making it law is simply the right thing to do. The state legislature needs to pass this proposal immediately and finally bring fairness to this broken system."

Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran said, "No one should ever be forced to put their income at risk in order to care for a loved one and I commend Governor Cuomo for fighting to make sure that no one faces that dilemma ever again. His proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave – at no cost to business owners – gives the hard working men and women of this state the security they need to in order to be there for their family no matter the circumstance. It is time for the legislature to adopt this proposal into law and give working families the support that they have been waiting for"

Girls, Inc. of Long Island Executive Director Neela Mukherjee Lockel, LMSW-MPA said, "Every working woman should have the chance to take care of their loved ones in their time of need – regardless of socioeconomic status. For too long working mothers have been left out and left behind in today’s economy – and it’s time that changed. We must pass paid family leave and restore the promise of opportunity, hope and mobility for all New Yorkers. I am proud to support Governor Cuomo's 'Fight for Fairness' and I strongly urge the state legislature to make paid family leave a reality this legislative session."

A Better Balance Co-Founder & Co-President Dina Bakst said, "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. 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."

Legal Momentum President Carol Robles-Roman said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York continues to lead the nation in promoting equal rights and opportunity for all. 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."

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Executive Director Jessica González-Rojas said "Paid family leave is a vital tool to ensuring that parents have the resources and support they need to raise healthy families.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."

American Association of University Women, Islip Area Branch spokesperson Nancy Mion said, "Governor Cuomo is correct - the citizens of New York should be able to live in a State in which people can balance their family and professional life. Nobody should have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a loved one - especially in New York State. Women are often faced with this choice especially after a new baby is born and again later in life caring for aging parents. We join the Governor in fighting for economic justice for women and families and urge the State Legislature to pass the Governor's paid family leave proposal this session! ”

Salvadoran American Chamber of Commerce President Jorge Guadron said, "Governor Cuomo is taking an unprecedented step towards building strong families in New York State with his plan for 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave. Thousands of New Yorkers are being forced to choose between caring for a family member and putting food on the table on a daily basis and that is simply not in line with the values of this state. It is time for this to change and we, the Salvadoran American Chamber of Commerce, SALVACOM, commend the Governor for always standing up for those whose voices have gone unheard."

SEPA Mujer (Services for the Advancement of Women) Executive Director Martha Maffei said, "Passing paid family leave is not only good for New York’s families – it’s the right thing to do. In today’s economy, far too many New Yorkers have been left behind living paycheck to paycheck, working longer hours on less pay. By passing paid family leave we can ensure that when times get tough, working men and women no longer have to choose between their financial security and their family. I commend Governor Cuomo for continuing to lead the way, and I strongly urge the state legislature to pass this smart policy this legislative session."

Long Island Jobs with Justice Executive Director Anita Halasz said, "Limited access to paid family leave is a critical issue that our workforce faces today – especially women, minority and low-income employees. Governor Cuomo’s proposal will not only help these New Yorkers secure a paycheck when they need time off, but will help our communities and our economy by giving every New Yorker a chance to succeed. I am proud to stand up with Governor Cuomo and support these families because no one should have to choose between their family and their career."

100 Hispanic Women National, Inc. President Nancy Genova said, "Far too many New Yorkers still today struggle to make ends meet while working full time. What’s worse, they can’t even step away from their job to take care of their family when a loved one falls ill or a new baby is on the way. We need to pass paid family leave and change this. We need to ensure that in New York – working families always have the support they need and deserve. On behalf on the 100 Hispanic Women we are proud to support Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal and I strongly urge the state legislature to pass this proposal this legislative session.” The 100 Hispanic Women in a nonprofit organization dedicated to guiding Latinas towards excellence in leadership by fostering educational enrichment and creating opportunities to promote our personal and professional advancement."

Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP for New York State said, “Paid family leave is critical to supporting family caregivers in their unpaid work to help New Yorkers age with dignity in their own homes and communities – as the vast majority want – rather than in expensive and mostly taxpayer-funded institutional care settings such as nursing homes. AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for his strong paid family leave proposal and for taking the campaign for this common sense policy from one end of New York to the other. Many family caregivers hold down full-time jobs, and they shouldn’t have to worry about losing pay – or losing their jobs – when they need to focus on caring for their loved ones.”\

Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander said, “Vision Long Island supports the proposed NYS plan for 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave. Thousands of folks in local communities on Long Island are forced to choose between caring for a family member and putting food on the table on a daily basis.   The proposal has a minimal impact to small businesses who are the lifeblood of the Long Island's downtowns and would provide an important benefit to workers in a difficult economy."

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

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office