May 19, 2015

NYSUT and partners advocate for paid family leave

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT Communications
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Caption: Jamie Dangler (right), UUP Vice President for Academics. Photo by Michael Lisi.

NYSUT and a coalition of labor and faith-based groups are urging the state Legislature to act on a bill that would give working people paid family leave – a right that almost every other industrialized country already provides.

Companion bills that would provide paid family leave are before the Senate and General Assembly but have not come to a full vote. The measure would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to workers who need time off from their jobs after the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a seriously ill loved one.

"Too many working families today struggle to balance work needs with those of their families," NYSUT said in a statement from its Legislative and Political Action Department, which is headed by Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "This legislation provides a significant step forward for New York state."

Advocates held a May 18 vigil in the Capitol's War Room to heighten awareness of the bills, and also recently spent a day meeting with lawmakers to ask for their support in moving on the measure before the legislative session ends. Supporters in addition to NYSUT include the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, Citizen Action and the Albany County Federation of Labor.

Several members of NYSUT's largest higher education affiliate, United University Professions, participated in the vigil. UUP represents 35,000 academic and professional faculty at the State University of New York's state-operated campuses, and has long advocated for a uniform paid family leave policy throughout SUNY.

Among those at the vigil were UUP Vice President for Academics Jamie Dangler, Secretary Eileen Landy and members from UUP's chapters at SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Albany.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act protects a worker's job during a leave for specified family and medical reasons, but does not require employers to pay employees during the leave.