Gotham Gazette Sun, 19 Aug 2018 10:21:15 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb (Webmaster) Everyone's Talking About Paid Family Leave, Only Compromise Will Yield a Deal cuomo biden paid family leave

Cuomo's paid family leave rally (photo via The Governor's Office)

Last week, the New York State Assembly passed a one-house bill creating a program that would allow workers to take time off to care for a new child or sick loved one while receiving a portion of their usual pay. It is the fifth year in a row the Assembly has done so. "It's appropriate we're here on Groundhog Day, since we've been coming back year after year for paid family leave," said Donna Dolan, head of the New York State Paid Family Leave Coalition, at a press conference announcing the vote.

Just a few days earlier Gov. Andrew Cuomo rallied with Vice President Joe Biden in Manhattan to push his newly-unveiled paid family leave bill. Both detailed their experiences of being torn between work and being at the side of a dying loved one.

"My friends, paid family leave has been an important issue for a long time, but it is an issue whose time has come because things happen," Cuomo told the crowd. "When the planets line up and the political will and the body politic develops, and the body politic says enough is enough – now is the time to pass paid family leave."

It was only last session that Cuomo insisted the legislature had no "appetite" for paid family leave. But now with major attention from media, elected officials, and advocates across the nation focused on whether New York will become the fourth state to pass a paid family leave bill, Cuomo is whipping up support for his plan. As are Assembly Democrats, whose plan is different, while all look to get the blessing of Senate Republicans, who control that chamber.

While Cuomo seeks to thread some middle ground with his plan, Assembly Democrats insist theirs, which includes higher benefits, is the way to go, and Senate Republicans indicate there may be room for compromise while saying they're wary of any additional burdens on businesses.

The Cuomo administration is proposing a plan that would pay benefits through contributions from employee paychecks and reimburse workers starting at the rate of 35 percent of earnings. The Assembly plan would expand the scope of the state Temporary Disability Insurance program to cover paid family leave and would also take contributions from employee paychecks, but would reimburse at a rate of two-thirds of a worker's pay for individuals on leave.

One central point of conflict is whether to connect the paid family leave program to the TDI--a move Senate Republicans appear to be sensitive to because of concerns that increasing the benefit for workers who take off time for their own disabilities would be a cost born by employers as well as workers. TDI is paid for by employers.

The state has kept the TDI reimbursement rate steady at $170 a week for decades. Legislators expect that increasing the rate will take immense political capital as it will almost certainly require contributions from employers.

However, there are also signs there may be room for compromise as the Cuomo administration has said it will introduce amendments to its leave proposal. Advocates expect the administration to increase the amount employees are reimbursed to bring it into line with the Assembly proposal.

"I think it is a very positive thing that everyone is talking about paid family leave," said Sen. Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Conference, who joined Cuomo and Biden for their rally last month, delivering opening remarks. "Serious discussions haven't started yet, but I'm hopeful."

Soon after speaking with Gotham Gazette, Klein introduced a new version of his paid family leave bill to the state Senate. Klein and the IDC jolted discussion of family leave last year when they successfully advocated for Senate Republicans, whom they have a coalition with and control the chamber, to include a paid family leave plan in their budget.

Before introducing his new compromise bill, Klein told Gotham Gazette that he believes negotiations should focus on Cuomo's proposal rather than the Assembly's because it is "more palatable" to Senate Republicans.

The dynamics around paid family leave have changed since last legislative session. Cuomo appears to have stepped into the role Klein's IDC was playing as they backed paid family leave supported in part by state funds and by deductions from employee paychecks. The Assembly Democrats' plan would use deductions from employee paychecks to expand the TDI, which currently provides partial pay for workers who are disabled and have to take off work.

Last year Cuomo rejected the Senate's family leave proposal put forward by the Independent Democratic Conference. "We need a paid family leave policy that is sustainable and would provide real protections to employees. What we should not accept is the Senate proposal, which is a half-loaf that does not provide sustainable funding or a workable framework for employees and employers," Cuomo spokesperson Melissa DeRosa said in a statement in March in response to the IDC's plan.

Klein's new plan would provide 12 weeks of paid leave starting at two-thirds of a worker's average weekly pay, or 35 percent of the state's average weekly wage by 2017. It would eventually offer 80 percent of a worker's salary, or 50 percent of the statewide average weekly by April 1, 2021. It would be paid for through a 27-cent-a-week contribution from employee paychecks and be distributed through a newly created paid leave system. It would not expand the TDI, but Klein has advocated doing so separately, to raise the TDI benefit after so many years of it staying flat.

Cuomo's plan, presented in conjunction with his State of the State and budget address in January, would create a paid family leave system that would offer up to 12 weeks leave paid for by a weekly, 60 cent payroll deduction. Workers would be able to take leave while earning 35 percent of their pay in 2018, rising to 66 percent by 2021. Leave pay would be capped at a weekly average of statewide pay - the 2014 average according to the state Department of Labor was $1,266.44.

The Assembly plan would expand TDI and provide workers with 12 weeks of paid leave at two thirds of their average weekly wage. It would be paid for with a weekly deduction from an employee's paycheck that would start at 45 cents. The plan would become effective July of 2017.

Advocates have leaned towards the Assembly plan as it provides workers with what they consider the minimum amount of pay to make taking leave feasible, as well as expanding the TDI, and requiring a smaller worker contribution.

Blue Carreker, head of Citizen Action of NY's paid family leave campaign said that her organization thinks any paid leave bill has to cover all workers and all businesses, provide 12 weeks leave, and increase the rates paid by TDI to bring it into parity with what will be paid by the family leave program.

Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has indicated he is open to negotiations. Following a speech he gave at an Association for a Better New York breakfast last month, Flanagan indicated he was moved by Cuomo's State of the State speech in which the governor described regretting not being at his father's side during his final days.

Flanagan tempered that openness with concerns he has about how a paid leave policy might impact small business. "If you're a business with four employees and someone is going to be gone for three or four months, that's a legitimate consideration," said Flanagan. "So a threshold on what's the size of the business, who pays for it, how are kids paid for, those are all absolutely important components and worthy of discussion, and I think those discussions are already taking place. Where it adds up, I don't have a crystal ball on that, but I think there's a lot more discussion about paid family leave now than there was even six months ago."

Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb told Gotham Gazette, "A lot of business owners are saying 'Are you kidding me? Another thing that is telling me what to do and costing me time and money.'" He added that "there really aren't that many details except in that bill" from the Assembly Democrats, which "almost certainly won't become law."

A number of business groups stand against paid family leave. "Small employers are currently able to accommodate employees and provide flexibility in terms of scheduling," said Michael Durant, New York State director of The National Federation of Independent Businesses. "Those that can afford to offer paid time off already do and to require those that cannot afford the added expense will be dangerous to the small business sector. This is simply a solution in search of a problem and would be yet another government mandate on small business."

A recent DEMOS policy brief showed that 9 out of 10, or 6.4 million, working people in New York don't have paid family leave.

Increasing the TDI is an extremely sensitive issue for businesses and many legislators believe that including it with paid family leave will continue to be a poison pill. Most legislators are convinced by Cuomo's efforts on paid family leave and they see the inclusion of it in his budget and the way he rolled out the issue in the State of the State as a sign of steadfast commitment. They expect he will be willing to increase how much the leave program pays out and perhaps speed the implementation timeline, but not touch the TDI given his relationship with the business community. Increasing the TDI would be an immense victory for labor interests.

Carreker, who was waiting for a meeting with Cuomo administration representatives about paid leave when she spoke with Gotham Gazette, said she is confident a compromise can be reached and stressed she feels that advocates need to focus on educating legislators and small businesses on the impact paid family leave would actually have.

"It's about getting over that initial hurdle of the fear of change, of something different," said Carreker. "The more people that hear the details, the more they'll see it makes sense. This isn't a burden, it's an insurance program that covers the salaries so businesses can figure out coverage while an employee is away so that they don't have to lose good employees."

Klein agrees: "This is not something that puts a burden on business, but something that lends stability to the workforce. I think we're getting it done this year."

Paid Family Leave Proposals Gov. Cuomo Assembly Democrats Senate Independent Democratic Conference
Funding Method

60 cent weekly deduction from employees' paychecks

State TDI program and 45 cent weekly deduction from employees' paychecks

27 cent weekly deduction from employees’ paychecks

Time Off & Payout

12 weeks of paid leave starting at 35% of worker’s pay starting in 2018, rising to 66% by 2021.

12 weeks of paid leave starting at two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage, effective July 2017

12 weeks of paid leave starting at two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly pay, or 35% of the state’s average weekly wage by 2017. Will eventually offer 80% of a worker’s salary, or 50% of the statewide average weekly by April 1, 2021

TDI Expansion?

Does not expand TDI

Plan would expand the scope of the state Temporary Disability Insurance program to cover paid family leave

Does not expand TDI

by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Everyone's Talking About Paid Family Leave, Only Compromise Will Yield a Deal Fri, 05 Feb 2016 21:47:14 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, July 27 New York City Hall

New York City Hall

What to watch for this week in New York politics:

BIDEN IN NY: Monday starts off with a bang as Vice President Joe Biden is in New York, first events with Governor Andrew Cuomo in Rochester, then New York City. According to Cuomo's office,  Biden and Cuomo will appear at 11 a.m. at SUNY Polytechnic Canal Ponds in Rochester, where they "will deliver remarks on the economy" and then at 2:45 at the Sheraton New York on 7th Avenue, Biden and Cuomo will make a "major infrastructure announcement." The latter is at an event being held by the Association for a Better New York, a business group. Cuomo was long-planned to speak at ABNY's luncheon, but it appears the specific agenda changed as things came through for Biden to join him and announce new plans for LaGuardia Airport. For the former, the Democrat and Chronicle is reporting that Biden will be announcing a $110 million grant from the Department of Defense to bolster the work being done at the Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation.

TRACKING DE BLASIO: The mayor will not be with Biden and Cuomo for the LaGuardia announcement, it appears. De Blasio starts his week with a noon "press conference to make an announcement at the American Museum of Natural History" which will be in collaboration with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, according to her public schedule. "Later, the Mayor will host a meeting with M/WBE developers at City Hall," according to his public schedule. Meanwhile, over the weekend de Blasio marched in the Dominican Day Parade on Sunday and, on Saturday, he attended and spoke at "the Northern Caribbean University Alumni Association Homecoming" in Brooklyn and made "remarks at the Staten Island Democratic Party Boardwalk Bash."

Other things we're watching for include the latest crime stats from the NYPD; any sign of news from the Department of Justice or NYPD on the investigations into the conduct of officers involved in Eric Garner's death; further developments in the saga over how the MTA capital program will be funded; and the latest in the special elections set to take place for two City Council seats vacated by members taking new jobs and several seats in the state Legislature vacated due to corruption.

As always, there's a good deal happening all over the city this week, though the City Council has no public hearings or meetings scheduled this week after last week's lone July Stated Meeting and all of the Uber drama that led up to it. Regardless, read our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max:***

The run of the week in detail:

At 8 a.m. the Division of Local Government and School Accountability from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s Office is hosting a seminar for municipal and school district officials.

At 9:45 a.m. Monday U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer will join AT&T and NYU to announce nine winning tech solutions from the ‘Connect Ability’ Challenge and present over $100,000 in prizes for the winning recipients. Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President of AT&T, will attend.

On Monday morning in Lake Buena Vista, FL, New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver "remarks at GE Foundation's 2015 Summer STEM Conference," according to her public schedule.

At noon, Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and others - including Manhattan BP Gale Brewer - will make an announcement at the Museum of Natural History. Brewer is also set to join Cuomo and others for their 2:30 announcement...

At 2:30 p.m. the Association for a Better New York is hosting a lunch event with Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will be making a “major infrastructure announcement” together. A live stream will be available via the governor's website. Governor Cuomo and Vice President Biden will also be in Rochester Monday to announce that “the region won a nationwide competition as the site for an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation.” City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James, and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito are scheduled to attend the Biden-Cuomo announcement in New York City. According to the Daily News, "it will focus on the rebuilding of LaGuardia's central terminal building. It's expected Cuomo will announce the winner of a design competition. Cuomo is also expected to touch on initiatives, including the construction of an Air Train to LaGuardia, a high speed ferry connecting the airport to Manhattan, and a new airport hotel and business center."

Earlier Monday, Public Advocate James will speak at a Queens press conference with Congressman Steve Israel calling for a "review of security measures at reserve bases."

At 5:30 p.m. there will be a public meeting of the Contracts Committee of the panel for educational policy at Tweed Courthouse.

At 6 p.m. Monday City Council Member Corey Johnson and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are hosting “Rat Academy...a free training on safe and effective methods for rat prevention in your building and neighborhood,” at Hudson Guild's Elliot Center.

At 10 a.m. the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs is hosting an information session on the borough-specific processes of applying for and securing City funding for arts and cultural nonprofits in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. On Tuesday, August 4 at 12pm the Brooklyn and Queens borough-specific processes will be covered. 

At 6 p.m. the NYC Veterans Alliance is holding a forum on NYC Veterans Policy. John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, is set to make opening remarks. A panel discussion will include panelists Phoebe Gavin, U.S. Army Veteran, Freelance writer; Lee Covino, U.S. Army Veteran, Former Vice-Chairman of the NYC Veterans Advisory Board; Brett Morash, U.S. Navy Veteran, Vice President of Veterans Services for Services for the UnderServed; Tireak Tulloch, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Veteran Advocate; Julienne Williams, U.S. Air Force Veteran, Veteran Transition Manager for New York at IAVA's Rapid Response Referral Program; and Coco Culhane, Founder and Director of the Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center.

At 6 p.m. there will be a “Red Tape Commission” meeting hosted by Comptroller Scott Stringer, with commission co-chairs Jessica Lappin and Michael Lambert, and Red Tape Commission Members. The Commission is “dedicated to helping success in business by finding ways to help you cut through the red tape.”

At 7 p.m. there will be a “Queens: Contracts for Excellence” public hearing hosted by the Department of Education.

At 8 a.m. City & State will hold an awards breakfast for “Technology, Telecommunications & New Media.” There will be a panel discussion with keynote speaker Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer of NYC; featured speaker Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor at CUNY; and emcee Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum. There will be a "Thought Leader Discussion: City & State and partners convene leaders in technology and new media to discuss best practices and trends in corporate social responsibility" moderated by Rasiej, with George Fontas, Capalino and Co.; Manhattan BP Gale Brewer, Neil Giacobbi, AT&T; Guy Franklin, Israeli Mapped in NY; and possibly others.

At 8 a.m. there will be “Uncovering the Code: An Update on NYC’s New Energy Code,” an event on the 2015 New York City Energy Conservation Code. Gina Bocra, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Department of Buildings, will be attending.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday the New York City Housing Authority is holding a board meeting.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board is offering a Compliance & C-SMART training session for the 2017 election cycle at 1 p.m. Wednesday. “Compliance trainings cover campaign finance laws and CFB rules. C-SMART trainings provide an overview of the CFB’s web-based application, which campaigns must use to manage and disclose financial activity. The candidate, treasurer, campaign manager or other individual with significant managerial control over the campaign is legally required to attend both a Compliance and a C-SMART training.”

At 2 p.m. there will be a public meeting for the Department of Transportation on revocable consents.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the Department of Education is holding a panel for educational policy meeting at Taft Educational Complex in the Bronx.

At 7 p.m. BetaNYC and Coalition for Queens are hosting a civic hacknight.

At 9 a.m. the Equal Employment Practices Commission is holding its July public meeting.

At 10:30 a.m. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is holding a land use hearing.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, ten of City & State’s veteran and military honorees will be celebrated for going “Above & Beyond.” Loree Sutton, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs, will make the keynote remarks. Honorees include Welby Alcantara, USMC, Military & Veteran Services Coordinator, John Jay College; Joseph A. Bello, Founder, NY Metro Vets; Walter Bridgers, Team Leader, Harlem Veterans Center; Kenneth Curley , President & CEO, Raymond Associates LLC; Tom Gray, Senior Vice President, Capalino & Company; Aaron Leonard, Executive Director, Project Rebirth; Dan McSweeney, Incoming President, United War Veterans Council; Regina Marengo, President, Ensign Engineering; and Kelly Saeli, Director of Operations, NYC Helmets to Hardhats.

Friday and the weekend
Nothing on our radar yet for Friday or this weekend, but stay alert!

Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

by Erika Wang and Ben Max

The Week Ahead in New York Politics, July 27 Sat, 25 Jul 2015 05:00:00 +0000