For many New Yorkers, the choice between taking care of a loved one and keeping their job is almost impossible.
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Paid Family Leave proposal now officially endorsed by the AARP, New York family care givers have a strong ally to help push the bill through the Senate. The bill would allow for up to 12 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds salary and will guarantee job security.
Consisting of 2.6 million members in New York State, the AARP is one of the largest and most influential organizations when it comes to lobbying the state Legislature. Among these members, upwards of 100 advocates rallied in Albany Tuesday, calling on the Senate to pass the bill. An endorsement from the AARP could provide significant support for a paid family leave law, with members providing real life experiences as to why it is necessary.
Toni Salomone, an AARP member from Islip, spoke emotionally about her personal experiences without paid family leave and the difference it could have made for her loved ones.
After her husband spent weeks in the hospital, it was clear to Salomone that he was dying. Her daughter — a teacher and single mother of two — wanted to be there for her father and spend the time he had left by his side, resulting in a five week leave from her job. Those five weeks without pay, two children to care for, and the emotional stress of losing their father, were extremely difficult for the Salomone family.
“It is terribly, terribly important. He was always there for her and it’s only right that she was there for him. We should not have to make these kinds of decisions; they should be available for everybody,” Salomone said.
Richard McGee an AARP member from Garden City Long Island, has a 95-year-old mother, who is in and out of hospital due to major health conditions. Her health has caused McGee to take time off from work, without pay, for weeks at a time.
“I had the kind of job where I couldn’t take off for long periods of time. I traveled extensively for my company, New York Life, and benefitting from a paid family leave program would have really helped both me and my mom… Having this kind of program would have been essential to taking care of my mother,” McGee.
McGee is currently waiting to start a new position and hopes his new company offers better support for family leave.
The bill has passed the Assembly and has 22 Senate sponsors. It was referred to the Senate Labor Committee in early February where it now waits to be reviewed.