June 13, 2023
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Expansion of Nation-leading Fully Paid Parental Leave Program, Covering More Than 150,000 New York State Employees

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Expansion of Nation-leading Fully Paid Parental Leave Program, Covering More Than 150,000 New York State Employees

Agreement With CSEA Will Provide 12 Weeks of Fully Paid Parental Leave to More Than 52,000 Employees

If Ratified, Agreements with PEF and UUP Would Offer 12 Weeks of Fully Paid Parental Leave to More Than 88,000 Employees

Builds on Policy Extended to More Than 10,000 Unrepresented State Workers Earlier This Year

New York State Department of Labor Will Also Launch Statewide Paternity Leave Awareness Campaign

See Example of Department of Labor Awareness Campaign Video Here

Governor Hochul: "It's good for a family's economic security, it's good for maternal health, and it's good for workforce retention. So, what could be wrong with that? Those are all wonderful goals. But in our country, we're one of those industrialized nations that is not on the list of those who are really taking care of their families, but that's our country. This is New York. This is New York. We do things differently in New York. We take care of our people in New York."

Hochul: "This is called paid family leave. It covers fathers and mothers. And we want to make sure that we break down the stigma or any barriers to men feeling that they cannot take the time to be with their child because they will never regret a moment of it. They'll never regret being home."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the expansion of New York's nation-leading initiative to offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave benefits to more than 80 percent of the state workforce, fulfilling her State of the State commitment. As part of the Governor's ongoing support for New York workers and their families, this historic shift means that the majority of State workers will have access to this crucial benefit for the first time in State history.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Thank you, everyone. It is great to back in the Albany Labor Temple. Last time I was here, I won't talk politics, but it was right before last November, and I appreciate all the overwhelming support that you've given me to become your Governor, your first female elected Governor. So, I'm grateful to be back in here. There's great karma in this room. It's so great to see so many men and women of Labor, and I could not be prouder to be the Governor of a state that has the hardest working, most intelligent, most dedicated public sector workforce in the nation. And that is all of you.

Tim Hogues, I hear about it everywhere I go - how you have not only brought civil service out of the 1800s, the 1900s, the 2000s already, because we are already in the 22nd century in terms of what you're doing. So, thank you. Thank you for raising the bar so high, implementing my expectation that when someone tells you, "We're doing it this way because we always have," you say, as I say, "Wrong answer," and we shake it up. And you are making a profound change every single day and opening up the doors to the greatest noble jobs in our state, and that to be part of our public sector workforce. So, thank you. Let's give him another round of applause.

Jeanette Moy is here as well, our commissioner of OGS, Office of General Services. So, every single building you are in, thank her for making it a good place to be. We have other members of my administration, and also our elected leaders, who are here. Mayor Kathy Sheehan, great to see you again. Mayor, great to see you. Thank you. We have Neil Breslin, our Senator, has joined us as well. We also have - who you'll be hearing from - Fred Kowal. Fred and I have worked together in his role as head of UUP for a long time, working to get other people elected many, many years ago in Western New York. And what an extraordinary leader he is. We had a chance to speak a number of times during the resolution of an important agreement. And I thank him for everything he has done on behalf of this incredible union. So, Fred Kowal, let's give an applause here.

Danielle Bridger is here too, representing, well, the Comptroller's Office sometimes, but also the PEF - be nice to me, okay? Capital Regional Coordinator, I want to thank her for all she does. We just had a chance to see each other a couple days ago when I had a chance to make an announcement about the settlement of the PEF agreement. So, thank you. Thank you for what you're doing for us. Allison Konderwich, a Department of Labor employee - we'll be hearing from Alison in a couple of minutes as well. And she's got a personal story to tell us, so we're looking forward to that too. Again, members of my administration are here, all the elected officials, and of course, Labor. And it is always great to be in front of a union crowd. You're the ones that keep the state running and thriving and driving and all the different things we do.

And so, I want you to know I'll never, ever take for granted what you do. Often, you're the unsung heroes. You don't get a lot of pats on the back. I know because I used to run seven DMVs. Other than paying your taxes, sometimes had been the most unpleasant experience for people. So, I knew what it was like to be on the front lines. I was always standing next to my workers. And doing the transactions with them and experiencing what they experienced firsthand. So, the depth of my appreciation is overwhelming based on what I saw when - as a town government official, working shoulder to shoulder with members of various unions, county positions, and now as Governor of the State of New York.

So, you are never taken for granted. I will always not just defend you, but herald you, talk about you publicly as we try really hard to encourage others to seek the noble path of public service as you have all done. And that is why what Tim Hogues is doing is so important and all of you as being validators that these are great jobs. There's a lot of pride in them, and you're truly solving problems for people in this state every single day. So please, thank you. Let's give another round of applause to all of our public sector union members.

Whether it's education or sanitation or transportation or so many essential services and all these technical support and the scientific support, the professional support that PEP gives us and also our university professors. And also, you heard it a lot, but what happened to our workforce during the pandemic - and I saw firsthand how people transitioned from their jobs and were asked to do extraordinary things that they were never trained for, never expected to do, but my God, they were there helping save lives in the State of New York. And that is always going to be part of your story, your legacy, something to be able to tell your grandchildren, how you were on the front lines in all the roles you played in helping people across our state.

And also, I just have an appreciation, personal appreciation for the labor union movement since it is the direct reason why my family, my grandparents were lifted out of poverty. When grandpa came to this country, a very poor immigrant, 19 years old, told there's no hope in Ireland. And grandma came, 18-year-old, they didn't meet in Ireland, they met in Chicago. But two young people made that journey like so many others at that time, and even more recently, in search of something better for themselves, a belief that things, life could be better.

And grandpa worked in the wheat fields of South Dakota as a migrant worker, only job he could get. My grandparents were domestic servants in Chicago. They got married. They fled a really difficult situation, abusive people with their bosses, and they heard about the promised land of Buffalo, New York, where you could literally get a job with very little training, not educated people, making steel with your hands. And those smokestacks, it's a shadow of what it used to be.

But 20,000 people worked right near where I was born, parents that started out in a trailer park. Dad had a job working making steel until he had a chance to get a college degree, and that changed my family's life. But, being a member of a union, having that union card gave them a steady income, gave them pensions, gave them benefits, and my family's destiny was forever altered.

That is why I believe in the union movement. That is why I want to make sure that the union movement in this State continues to be strong. That we support those who are part of the union family with good benefits and the dignity of knowing that you're paid well for the work that you deliver. That's my core belief and why this is so important to me.

And so, we're going to continue finding ways for others to be on this same pathway. And I'm going to keep fighting for the middle class, the hardworking men and women of this State, and giving them more opportunities, of course.

But it's not done. Not done. We're always having to talk about what benefits have we overlooked? Is there something we have not done? Is there something that we can do to elevate our commitment to the individuals who are part of our workforce? And I want to make sure that people have a chance to start families too. Families are great. They're really great. Okay, I'll diverge. Anybody want to see pictures of my grand baby?

Sorry, I literally FaceTime her every morning when I'm getting ready and now she's toddling around and she's adorable. But it's just a reminder to me that her deep relationship with her parents came from the fact that they both had jobs where the first four months, my daughter-in-law was able to be home. The second four months, my son was in charge. He is with, he's an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, and he took the four months, the whole thing. And as a result, he's a, I think he has more appreciation for me, which is important, but also, he will be that parent that we want all of the parents to be, to have that bond with that new baby that is, that endures for life.

That's what all of our parents should have. And young families shouldn't have to try to make that tough decision between having a paycheck or having to spend time with their kids. You know that tough decision, whether it's a newborn, an adopted child, a foster child. So, it's time that's necessary.

And many parents have to rely on using their vacation days. They run up so quick or take unpaid leave. And how hard is that? My god, it's expensive for our young families. You know, even before inflation went off the charts, the cost of diapers and formula, and there was a shortage of formulas, so everybody's stressed out over that. When they start toddling along, they outgrow the little shiny sneakers every other week, it seems. Grandma's always having to buy little more outfits and send them down.

So they grow. They're expensive, and that's one of the reasons why we said, and I said, "Why is it that our Child Care Tax Credit starts at age five when they start getting cheaper?" Then, the sneakers might fit for a year. So, we changed that as well. And I thank the legislative leaders for supporting changing that, so every family can take advantage of that tax credit with a newborn and up. That just makes common sense.

But I don't want parents to have to make those tough decisions anymore. And I had to give up a career that I loved on Capitol Hill. I was honored to work as an attorney for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. That's all I wanted to do when I was younger. I wanted to work on Capitol Hill. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to work for a senator, be supportive behind other elected officials because women didn't have the audacity to dream bigger than that at the time. You didn't dream of yourself being in those roles. So I wanted to stay, but there were no child care options for me.

I put my career on hold, and I know how hard it is for people to make those decisions. And when you put your career on hold, you don't know if it's going to come back again. You don't always know. You don't know if you're going to be losing income, social security loss, that has a way of catching up with you later in life.

And also, parental leave is so good for the kids. It is so good for them to have that attachment. And so, it's good for their cognitive development and their health. And also, I believe it increases employee productivity because if you get that time to just dial it all back, become a parent, sometimes it takes a long time to achieve that, and it doesn't always come easy for people, but you finally reach that point in your life where this time is precious, it's going to be gone someday.

And I tell my kids all the time, "They are going to love you until they are 13 and then, something happens." "You're not cool, all you can do is drop me off at the mall, but pretend you don't know me." And then, when they turn 18, they're wonderful again. So, this time, it's precious. The little baby time is so precious. And I know our mayor knows because she's a new grandma, too. Our babies are just about the same age.

But for the employer, let them take this break, let them have time to connect with their family. They'll come back recharged. They'll be actually happy to get back to work in some cases. It will seem a lot easier. So, I think it's going to boost employee participation, especially among all the women who we know, during the pandemic - we're still not back to the same rates of women working in this country from what it had been because child care was so hard, which is why we've invested $7 billion in child care. Another topic. But we are the only - so, it comes down to maternal health, time for mom to take care of herself because you don't feel great for a long time. We don't always talk about that. But depression can kick in. It's very common, especially for first time moms. There's just a lot of uncertainty and concerns.

So, it's good for a family's economic security, it's good for maternal health, and it's good for workforce retention. So, what could be wrong with that? Those are all wonderful goals. But in our country, we're one of those industrialized nations that is not on the list of those who are really taking care of their families, but that's our country.

This is New York. This is New York. We do things differently in New York. We take care of our people in New York.

We've had paid family leave since 2016. As Lieutenant Governor, I was head of a task force that recommended it. I traveled the state, went to every corner championing this, and giving elder workers up to 12 weeks off for their newly adopted children or newborns. And that covered more than 8 million people in the private sector.

But, it didn't cover our state workers, didn't cover our state workers at that time. And so, that's why in my State of the State address just this year, I said I will put forward a nation leading plan to offer these very benefits to unrepresented New York State employees. So, I directed the Office of Employee Relations to start engaging with the unions, union contracts were up, it was the time to do this, to extend this benefit through the collective bargaining process. And we did. We kept our promise, we got the deal done, and that is why we are here today.

[Applause]

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So, thank you.

As a result, we are now fully extending paid family leave to over 80 percent of New York State employees - first time ever. So, it will ensure that we have 12 weeks of paid care for newborns, adopted children and foster children. We have an agreement with CSEA to expand leave to all their members, and also reached agreements with PEF and UUP as well. So that all happened very recently. It is a major, major accomplishment. And again, I thank the leaders for working so closely with us to represent individuals that are part of our family and making sure they can be there for their families.

So, in a couple minutes, you're going to be hearing from Allison, who is a Department of Labor employee, about the importance of paid family leave and she will tell you about her story. But also, I mentioned my son a couple times. That is a generational shift - for those who are as old as I can look back and talk about generational shifts. Because when we were starting out, it was the expectation that the mom is in charge, except for unusual circumstances when you are fortunate to have two parents, not everybody has that luxury, I understand that. But there has not been as much emphasis on dads, so it is always the mother that would take the time off, putting her career on hold to her detriment for her promotions while the father was in a different environment where the expectation was, of course, you'll come back.

This is called paid family leave. It covers fathers and mothers. And we want to make sure that we break down the stigma or any barriers to men feeling that they cannot take the time to be with their child because they will never regret a moment of it. They'll never regret being home.

So, on average, fathers take one week of paternity leave. They don't even know what they're doing the first week. They're not sleeping, they're just wandering. They're not really helpful. And they are stripped of this time with their children when they can discover their roles as fathers. They also need to be there to help the mom. She's not feeling great, as I said, and this requires moms to take more time off and so, that's why I'm proud to announce as well that the New York State Department of Labor is launching a statewide paternity leave awareness campaign this week, paternity leave to emphasize the importance of taking paternity leave overall.

And I will say - we're going to show you a promotion of this - that this is one more way that we're putting families first, giving opportunities to moms to get the support they need, fathers to get the support they need. And after this short time when their children's lives are over, because it does end, it does end, that they'll be able to be productive members of our workforce for many, many years to come.

And that's what this is about.

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