March 10, 2016
Albany, NY

House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Endorses Governor Cuomo's Paid Family Leave Proposal

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Democratic Leader Pelosi Joins the “Strong Families, Strong New York” Campaign in Support of Enacting the Nation’s Strongest Paid Family Leave Policy in New York State

18 Members of New York’s Congressional Delegation Also Endorse Governor’s 12-Week Plan and Call on State Lawmakers to Enact It This Year

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U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today endorsed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal and joined the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign to call for passage of the proposal this year. House Democratic Leader Pelosi’s backing comes amid broad public support for paid family leave – 80 percent of New Yorkers approved of the policy in a recent Siena poll. By enacting the Governor’s 12-week, employee-funded proposal, New York State would offer the longest period of paid family leave benefits in the nation. Currently, only three other states offer paid family leave: California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. 

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“No one should ever be forced to make the impossible decision of caring for their loved ones in a time of need and maintaining their basic financial security,” said Governor Cuomo. “This policy would make a fundamental difference in the lives of working families across our state; it would create a new reality where workers are able to live decently and support their families when they are needed most. Restoring dignity and economic justice to working families is a nationwide challenge – and New York must show the way forward by passing paid family leave.” 


"When workers have the tools to balance the demands of work with the responsibilities of home, families and businesses both benefit," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Gov. Cuomo's bold, determined leadership on paid leave will make a transformative difference in the wellbeing of New York's hard-working families. I am honored to stand with Gov. Cuomo in fighting for robust paid family leave for the people of New York – and to call on Congress to enact paid family leave for all Americans."

In addition to House Democratic Leader Pelosi’s backing, the Governor’s proposal has received the endorsement of diverse groups and organizations around the state, including the AARP, the New York State chapter of the NAACP, more than 100 clergy and faith leaders, leading women’s advocacy groups, and a diverse array of elected officials and organizations from New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley to Western New York.

Also endorsing the Governor’s proposal are the following 18 members of New York’s Congressional delegation:

  • Congressman Charles B. Rangel
  • Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
  • Congressman Eliot Engel
  • Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey 
  • Congressman José E. Serrano 
  • Congressman Jerrold Nadler 
  • Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney 
  • Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez 
  • Congressman Gregory W. Meeks 
  • Congressman Joe Crowley 
  • Congressman Steve Israel 
  • Congressman Brian Higgins 
  • Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke 
  • Congressman Paul Tonko 
  • Congressman Hakeem Jeffries
  • Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney 
  • Congresswoman Grace Meng
  • Congresswoman Kathleen Rice

Congressman Charles B. Rangel said: “No parent should have to make the choice between a paycheck and caring for a sick child. I applaud Governor Cuomo for leading our nation with his bold plan to provide paid family leave for all of New York's working families. In Congress, Leader Pelosi has been a champion of women and family-friendly policies. I am proud to join her in fighting to ensure Americans the right to put family first.”

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said: “I’ve been fighting for paid family and medical leave my entire career so that no one is forced to choose between sacrificing their economic security and caring for a newborn child or tending to a family member’s medical emergency. It’s past time to bring the United States in line with every other industrialized nation and finally make it a reality for New Yorkers and workers across the country.”

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. Leader Pelosi has been a strong advocate for paid sick leave, and 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.”

Congresswoman Nita M. 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 José E. Serrano said: “Paid family leave is crucial for families’ and children’s wellbeing. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between tending to their children and earning a living to provide for them. If approved, Governor Cuomo’s 12 week paid leave proposal would be the most robust nationwide and put New York at the forefront of paid family leave policy. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s efforts and thank Leader Pelosi for her staunch support of progressive policies to help families nationwide.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said: “U.S. parental leave policies are woefully out-of-step with family needs and the rest of the world. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s plan to ensure that every New York family has the ability to take the time they need to care for a new child, a sick loved one, or their own health care needs.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said: “Leader Pelosi and Governor Cuomo understand that big states like New York can send a strong signal to the rest of the country that paid leave benefits both families and businesses. I’m proud to work with Leader Pelosi in championing these policies at the national level, and I applaud her for adding her voice to the growing chorus of those calling for paid family leave in New York State.”

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said: “Paid family leave should be a fundamental right for every New Yorker. I applaud Governor Cuomo for driving this proposal forward and working to extend this basic right to all New Yorkers.”

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said: "Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive paid family leave initiative New Yorkers will no longer be forced to sacrifice their job security and earnings due to unexpected life events such as caring for an ill family member or bonding with a new child. I applaud the Governor’s efforts and thank Leader Pelosi for lending her strong voice in support of the passage of the “Strong Families, Strong New York” campaign. Working families deserve our support and I will continue to work in Congress to ensure that paid family leave becomes a reality for all Americans.”

Congressman Joe Crowley said: “Having to choose between taking care of a loved one and keeping your job is a reality New Yorkers should never be faced with. Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave plan is a commonsense proposal that will give working men and women the peace of mind they deserve, and will create healthier families and build better communities. I thank Leader Pelosi for her steadfast support of working families and for joining Governor Cuomo in this fight. I’m proud to see New York, once again, leading the way in workplace fairness and I will continue to make this a priority in Congress so that all Americans are able to put their families first.”

Congressman Steve Israel said: “Hardworking New York families should never have to choose between putting food on the table and being with their loved ones in a time of need. I am proud to join Leader Pelosi and Governor Cuomo in supporting paid family leave and give New Yorkers the ability to put family first without jeopardizing their financial security.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said: “Too many families welcoming a new child or dealing with a long-term family illness must face these situations with limited or no income. Over 100 countries around the world have developed solutions to address the need for paid family leave. Americans and New Yorkers deserve the same.”

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said: “This women’s history month, I urge the prioritization of legislative provisions that will fund paid family leave. Women throughout New York State continue to face tough decisions regarding caring for an ill family member and forgoing pay. The Paid Family Leave Proposal will provide all New Yorkers with up to twelve weeks of family leave, protecting particularly low wage earners who are primarily women, from job and wage loss. I will continue to work with Governor Cuomo to support equitable legislation that safeguards hard working New Yorkers from economic insecurity and promotes progressive values.”

Congressman Paul Tonko said: “In the greatest country in the world, no one should worry about losing their job because their kid gets sick. It is a flat out embarrassment that America has yet to catch up with more than 145 countries around the world – many of which aren’t exactly famous for their treatment of women – that provide paid leave to mothers and fathers. That’s why I am a proud cosponsor of the Health Families Act in Congress, and why I applaud the Governor’s plan to help workers care for their families while protecting their earnings and job security.”

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 and Leader Pelosi to ensure that all New Yorkers can care for their loved ones without worrying about jeopardizing their jobs or their paychecks."

Congresswoman Grace Meng said: “Whether it’s caring for a sick loved one or spending time with a newborn, paid leave is critical for hard working New Yorkers. Nobody in New York or anywhere in the country should ever be forced to choose between their paycheck and their family. Paid leave is the right and decent thing to do, and we must enact it now. I thank Governor Cuomo and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for all their efforts to make paid leave a reality, and I’m proud to work with them to help make it happen.”

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice said: “No one should ever be forced to choose between raising a child and earning a paycheck. Paid leave is a win-win for everyone involved – it gives working parents the flexibility they need to meet their family obligations without sacrificing their careers and it helps employers recruit and retain a highly talented, productive and loyal workforce, which makes businesses more competitive and strengthens our economy. I thank the Governor for taking the lead on leave in New York State, and I urge our state lawmakers to give this proposal the bipartisan support it deserves.”

Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said: “Governor Cuomo’s paid family leave proposal is a strong, badly needed plan that we are proud to support. People should never have to sacrifice their jobs or financial security to care for their health or a loved one, and paid leave helps prevent that impossible choice while strengthening businesses and our economy. We urge the state legislature to make this smart proposal a reality this year. When it does, New York will join the leaders paving the way for the national paid leave law the country needs.”

Sharon I. Nelson, President of the National Women’s Political Caucus – NYC, said: “It is unacceptable that hard working men and women in every corner of this state continue to be forced to choose between their families and their paychecks. Governor Cuomo’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave puts an end to this injustice and does so without burdening businesses. Giving the men and women of this state the opportunity to care for loved ones without the fear of job loss is the right thing to do, and I applaud Governor Cuomo for once again being the champion that the working families of this state need."

Michelle Centeno, President of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. – New York Chapter, said: “Whether you’re caring for a loved one who has fallen ill or bonding with a newborn, you shouldn’t have to worry about your next paycheck or whether your job will be there when you return to work. Thankfully, Governor Cuomo’s proposal for 12 weeks of paid family leave ensures hard working New Yorkers will never have to face that dilemma again and can focus on their families when it matters the most. I am proud to join the many voices ringing out across the state calling on the legislature to do what is right and pass this proposal now."

Larry Lee, Executive Director of the New York Asian Women's Center, said: “For working New Yorkers, it can be challenging to take the proper amount of time off to be with family in times of need. New mothers and fathers should be able to stay at home with their newborn the first few months and still be compensated for their time away from work. The same should be said for those who need to be closer to home to care for ailing loved ones. NYAWC applauds Governor Cuomo’s proposal for and commitment to paid family leave, and we hope to see this become a reality for all New Yorkers and their families someday soon.”

Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said: “Paid family leave is a crucial stepping stone on the path to financial security for survivors of domestic violence. No one should be forced to choose between the vital economic resources a job offers, and taking care of a newborn, a sick child, or other family member with serious health conditions. Governor Cuomo’s proposal to make paid family leave benefits a reality for all New Yorkers will go far in helping pave the way to economic empowerment of survivors of domestic violence across our state.”

Eighty-seven percent of American workers do not have access to paid family leave, and the 13 percent who have access through their employers are more likely to have well-paying jobs. Federal law provides only for unpaid family leave for approximately 60 percent of workers, but many who are covered by FMLA live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to take unpaid leave. In essence, the status quo is failing poor working families.

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. More information on the Governor’s proposal is available at www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave.

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 live 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 www.ny.gov/paidfamilyleave

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