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Gillibrand seeks system to fund paid family leave

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Every worker in the country would be able to get paid medical or family leave under a proposal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to establish an insurance system.

The Albany-area Democrat says the cost to workers and employers is the equivalent of a cup of coffee a week and would be run through the Social Security system and could be carried from job to job. She says her own experience when working for a big New York City law firm and having a son showed the need and she had to create the rules for such a program at the law firm.

"My goal is to make this a national call to action. This is something that businesses embrace, once they understand it. It's something that really is valuable to small businesses because they can't keep up with the big guys," Gillibrand said. 

"The best firms in New York today, in America today are already providing this. You go to a top-tier law firm. You go a top-tier accounting firm. You go to an investment bank. They are desperate to retain their best workers, particularly female workers."

Gillibrand says women wind up as caregivers, often giving up their own jobs and careers to help someone.

The senator says she wants conversations inside Congress and in the country about the value of a self-financed program.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.