Thursday, May 17, 2007

Daily Politics 5/17/2007

From the Daily Politics:

WFP coup No. 2

Having just allowed day-care workers to unionize, which was the Working Families Party's top priority last year, Gov. Spitzer is now sponsoring paid family leave legislation, which is the WFP's top priority this year.

Under Spitzer's bill -- quietly introduced last week by GOP Sen. Thomas Morahan of Rockland County -- workers who need time off to take care for a child or sick relative (including domestic partners) would be entitled to as many as 12 weeks at half pay, up to a maximum of $170 a week. The bill sets the premium at 45 cents a week and authorizes employers to deduct it from paychecks.

These provisions appear to be identical to the WFP's "Working Families Time to Care Act."

UPDATE: There is at least one key difference: While the WFP bill expects employers to pick up the cost, the governor's bill gives them the option of shifting the cost to workers.

The Assembly has not yet introduced Spitzer's proposal, but it has passed a very similar bill several times before. One significant difference: The Assembly's bill extends to government employers, while Spitzer's does not.

In the U.S., this is pretty cutting-edge stuff. The only other state to adopt such a law is California, in 2002. According to the WFP, however, we're one of only five countries in the world that do not provide paid time off to care for newborn children, the others being Swaziland, Lesotho, Liberia and Papua New Guinea.

As far as I can remember, Spitzer has never once mentioned paid family leave as being on his to-do list, either on the campaign trail or since taking office. From what I hear, though, he's making a "heavy-duty, behind-the-scenes push" to get this done.