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The Remarks of Speaker Carl E. Heastie

Press Conference Announcing Impending Passage of Paid Family Leave

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
11:30 a.m.
Speaker's Conference Room

[as prepared]

Good morning.

We are here today because the Assembly Majority believes that our responsibility as parents and caregivers continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For nearly a decade, this house has passed legislation to provide paid family leave benefits to all workers and later this afternoon, we will continue that legacy by once again passing a bill to bring this critical protection to millions of workers across the state.

Assembly bill 3870 sponsored by Assemblymember Cathy Nolan would expand the state's current temporary disability insurance program to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers, including those not currently covered under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

I would like to commend Assemblymembers Nolan and Michelle Titus, chair of the Labor Committee, for their efforts to bring this legislation to the floor once again.

This Conference has been a longtime advocate for policies that support workers and their families and this bill is a testament to that commitment.

As households struggle to remain in the middle class, every paycheck matters.

Families are increasingly reliant on multiple earners and oftentimes multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Many of us take for granted the ability to call-in sick without penalty or fear of retaliation. The fortunate among us enjoy benefits that millions of workers in this state can only ever dream of.

The loss of a single day's wages or worse, the fear of losing a job should never stand in the way of caring for a sick family member, a parent, spouse or child but these are exactly the kinds of difficult choices that New Yorkers are forced to make every day.

The United States remains the only industrialized nation in the world to not offer paid family or sick leave. This is unconscionable.

President Obama and Vice President Biden have both raised the alarm on the need for action to provide paid family leave.

I am happy that the Governor has joined us in supporting this issue as well.

It is important that we provide New Yorkers with the resources they need so they can adequately provide for their families both emotionally and financially.

Paid family leave is long overdue and New York State should lead the way toward more family friendly and sustainable workplace policies.

We are calling on our partners in the Senate to show their support for families and join us in passing this bill.

Joining me today are Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, sponsor of today's legislation, Assemblymember Michele Titus, chair of the Committee on Labor, Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO and Donna Dolan, Executive Director of the Paid Family Leave Coalition.

We will hear from them in a moment but first, I would like to invite Assemblymember Nolan to say a few words about this important legislation.