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Long IslandPolitics

Vice President Joe Biden backs Andrew Cuomo’s family leave plan

Vice President Joe Biden sits with Governor Andrew

Vice President Joe Biden sits with Governor Andrew Cuomo during a rally for the fight for paid family leave Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, during a rally at the McBurney YMCA in Chelsea. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Vice President Joe Biden made an emotional pitch in Manhattan on Friday for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to give New Yorkers 12 weeks of paid leave to care for newborns or a sick or dying relative, describing the idea as a matter of basic decency.

Biden appeared with Cuomo and hundreds of labor officials at a rally at the McBurney YMCA.

“How do you choose between leaving the bedside of your dying son or daughter who doesn’t want you to leave ... to go to work because if you don’t go to work, you may not be able to turn the lights on?” said Biden, whose son Beau died of cancer last year.

In his State of the State speech this month, Cuomo proposed an employee-funded paid family leave program.

To fund the program, which would start in 2018, employees would be subject to a payroll deduction of up to 60 cents a week. They would be paid 35 percent of their salary during their leaves.

By 2021, the payroll deduction would increase to $1 a week, and workers would get 50 percent of their salary while on leave.

Speaking in front of a sign reading “Fight for Paid Family Leave,” Cuomo said middle class employees feel they are “replaceable commodities.” He described the lack of paid family leave as a “rampant economic injustice that degrades the worker.”

Cuomo recalled the death last year of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“This time is precious,” Cuomo said. “You need to say the things that need to be said — time to dry the tears.”

Some GOP Senate leaders and state business groups oppose Cuomo’s plan, arguing it would hurt employers.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) hinted Thursday that a deal on paid family leave could be worked out if it didn’t hurt small businesses. A GOP spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

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