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Gillibrand stumps for paid family leave law

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand recently led a quartet of congressional Democrats who appeared at the Purchase headquarters of MasterCard Worldwide Inc. to enlist corporate and working women’s support for a bill in Congress to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program funded by employer and employee payroll contributions.

Gillibrand is Senate sponsor of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, introduced last month by Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation has been referred to the Senate finance committee and to the House ways and means committee.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

The self-funded program, to be administered by a newly created office within the Social Security Administration, “doesn’t add a dime to the deficit,” Gillibrand told a receptive audience of state and local elected officials from Westchester County and MasterCard employees, the majority of whom were women, at a Jan. 10 press conference.

For the ninth year, the host company’s paid parental leave, child care and flextime policies in 2013 earned it a place on the 100 Best Companies list of Working Mother Media, whose president also spoke at the Anderson Hill Road headquarters  in support of the legislation. Forty-four percent of MasterCard’s approximately 4,100 employees in the U.S. are women, as are 34 percent of  the credit card giant’s managers and executives, according to Working Mother Media’s 2013 report.

The FAMILY Act bill would grant monthly benefit payments for eligible caregivers, both men and women, to be drawn from an independent trust within the Social Security agency. The trust would be funded by employer and employee contributions that each amount to 0.2 percent of a caregiver’s wages.

“It’s about the cost of a cup of coffee a week,” Gillibrand said. “And for that amount of money, it’s something we should all want to invest in.”

Adopted in 1993, the current federal Family and Medical Leave Act grants unpaid, job-protected  leave to employees of private companies with at least 50 employees and to workers in all government agencies and elementary and secondary schools. But 43 percent of employees cannot afford to take leave because it is unpaid and nearly half of working mothers are unable to take time off to care for a sick child, according to Gillibrand’s office.

New York’s junior senator said only 12 percent of U.S. workers have access to paid family leave through employers, while 40 percent have access through temporary employer-provided disability insurance.

Gillibrand said the lack of paid family and medical leave “keeps some of our best-trained workers out of the workforce. That means it hurts businesses and the economy.”

Beyond political partisanship, “It’s just a common sense idea that makes sense in our economy,” she said.

The bill’s House sponsor from Connecticut, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, told the Purchase audience of her paid medical leave in 1986 after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer while serving as chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd. Dodd’s support through her recovery was invaluable and much appreciated,  she said.

“That’s the peace of mind that the FAMILY Act provides,” DeLauro said. “You should not have to choose between keeping your job and taking care of yourself.”

Rep, Nita Lowey, the Democrat from Harrison, said the new legislation is “an extension” of efforts by her and other legislators to obtain federal funding for state paid medical leave programs.

Gillibrand spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said the senator “is working now to build bipartisan support” for the bill, which she introduced shortly before Congress went on holiday recess. The legislation has been endorsed by 434 business, labor, church and civic organizations.

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About The Author

John Golden
Westchester Bureau Chief

The Business Journal’s senior writer, John Golden directs news coverage of the county and Hudson Valley region as Westchester bureau chief. He was an award-winning upstate columnist and feature writer before joining the Business Journal in 2007. He is the author of “Northern Drift: Sketches on the New York Frontier,” a collection of his regional journalism.

Number of Entries : 2092

Comments (2)

  • FRANK

    I HAVE ENOUGH MONEY COMING OUT OF OUR PAYCHECK ALREADY AS AN EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE WHEN DOES IT END, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GET SOME MONEY FROM THE GOV’T INSTEAD OF ALWAYS PAYING OUT TO GOV’T PROGRAMS.

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  • Christopher Schaefer

    Social Security will become insolvent in 20 years; Social Security Disability will become insolvent in less than 3 years. So—presumably to celebrate these impending meltdowns—Rosa “Out-Of-Touch-With-Reality” DeLauro has just introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act: a national family/medical-leave “insurance program”—to be funded by Yet ANOTHER payroll TAX. Guess who will administer it? The Social Security Administration. Her proposal pays every individual who takes a “leave of absence”—regardless of the size of their current employer—and regardless of whether such individual is currently employed or self-employed or a “contingent worker”—OR even currently UNemployed!—as long as the person has sufficient “work history”. So in “DeLauro-Land” you even can take a “leave of absence”—from your non-employer! These two states have paid family time-off: California and Rhode Island. So guess which 2 states have the worst economies in the nation?…According to DeLauro’s YouTube “Family Act” announcement, the Payroll TAX will be “2 tenths of 1% or 2 cents of every $10”, “less than $1.50 per week”. And she claims this will be sufficient funding to create “an independent trust fund, a self-sustaining national insurance fund within social security”. She also claims it will be just as financially-sound as these programs: “In calendar year 2010, for the first time since the enactment of the Social Security Amendments of 1983, annual outlays for the program exceeded annual tax revenues…under current law, the DI [disability insurance] trust fund will be exhausted in fiscal year 2017, and the OASI [old-age & survivors insurance]trust fund will be exhausted in 2033.” http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44972?utm So either DeLauro is completely delusional OR her true intent is for this “Family Act” to be nothing more than a campaign stunt. Or, most likely, both.
    Reality: Rosa’s actually not THAT dumb. Let’s give DeLauro the benefit of the doubt and assume she actually owns a calculator. And knows how to use it. And that she even knows that Social Security is headed towards a meltdown. So WHY would she propose such an ill-conceived bill—knowing that it won’t even leave legislative committee? THE ANSWER!!!: So during the upcoming campaign season she can declare that the GOP is “Waging War on the Family” and “lacks compassion”—by not passing her bill! Sound vaguely familiar? (yawn….) Her opponent should be prepared well in advance with articulate, “compassionate” responses to this nonsense—specifically underscoring her deliberate deception. AND proposing an alternate, workable solution e.g. a pre-tax Leave-of-Absence savings account. Similar accounts have proven track records and WON’T raise your taxes—something DeLauro loves to do.
    DeLauro also loves to reward her minions—by paving the way for fraud. Here’s a telling excerpt from her FAMILY Act: “Burden of proof.—An application for benefits [of paid family/medical leave] under this section and a monthly benefit claim report of an individual shall each be PRESUMED TO BE TRUE AND ACCURATE, unless the Commissioner [of Social Security] demonstrates by a PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE that information contained in the application is false.”* DeLauro gives a whole new meaning to “innocent until proven guilty”!
    In “DeLauro-Land” all private business will be destroyed and everyone will work for government. More Evidence: her Family Act has an entire page** devoted to suing employers who don’t comply with this legislation—but NOT A WORD about penalties for fraudulent claims by employees! And an entire page*** is devoted to establishing a massive bureaucracy of govt. employees who will oversee this program: a clever way for DeLauro to reward her campaign workers.
    All this can be yours— for “less than $1.50 per week”!
    The business of government often can be far too serious. At least we have Rosa DeLauro to provide us with comic relief. On an almost daily basis. Search “Rosa DeLauro Exposed” for more!
    *Sec. 5 (g) of H. R. 3712, 113th Congress, 2013–2015; emphasis added;**Sec.5 (i) ***Sec.4

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