Quinn, Joined By Gloria Steinem And Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Releases Women’s Agenda; Unveils Paid Family Leave Plan That Doesn’t Require Albany Legislation Or Tax Hike On Working Families

Chris Quinn's Women Agenda by Quinn4NY

Christine Quinn, joined by feminist icon and women’s rights advocate Gloria Steinem and Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, released her women’s agenda as mayor of New York, unveiling a plan to implement paid family leave that doesn’t require approval from Albany and doesn’t require a tax increase on working families. Among the proposals in Quinn’s women’s agenda are: an emergency diaper program for families that cannot afford the high cost of diapers; the strengthening of the local non-discrimination laws related to pregnancy in New York City; and a program to prioritize access to NYCHA housing for abused women and victims of human trafficking to provide safe and stable shelter.

“Tomorrow we celebrate the 93rd anniversary of a woman’s right to vote and while tremendous progress has been made, we still have a ways to go to provide true equality and opportunity for women across New York,” said Quinn. “Step one is the implementation of paid family leave that doesn’t require action by Albany and doesn’t require a tax hike. We can do it right here in New York City – where we should – and make us a true national leader.”

Gloria Steinem, who joined Quinn for the rollout of her women’s agenda, praised Quinn’s plan for taking the bull by the horns locally in order to actually deliver results instead of just talking about an issue. 

“This is what an effective progressive looks like, ladies and gentlemen,” Steinem said of Quinn. “Chris Quinn is someone who understands that if you want to get things done, you need to take the bull by the horns and do it yourself. Her plan for paid family leave doesn’t leave us at the mercy of Albany and doesn’t put the financial burden on those who can afford it the least, but instead allows us to get it done right here in New York City.”

Quinn’s paid family leave program would provide 8 weeks of paid leave at 2/3 of a worker's income, up to $300 a week, on top of the $170 already provided by State Temporary Disability Insurance, for a total of $470 a week. The program will provide paid leave to those who need it most, with individual incomes of less than $100,000 per year. 

A competing program rashly offered by Bill de Blasio on Friday would institute a payroll tax on all New Yorkers and require passage of legislation in Albany to have it enacted. Albany has historically been reticent to pass additional taxes, whether on high-income earners or otherwise.  Additionally, legislation to create statewide paid family leave has languished in Albany since 2005, making passage of de Blasio’s plan seem unlikely. 

The Quinn plan would instead be funded through cost savings found in the city's budget. The city's current financial plan assumes the need to borrow $2.5 billion a year for the next four years, although no short term borrowing has been necessary even at the lowest point of the recession.  A total of $74 million in planned interest payments on that unnecessary borrowing could be redirected towards the family leave plan, and the city could also explore other options for funding the program, such as using up to $6 million in savings through reductions in unnecessary use of punitive segregation at Rikers Island. The total cost of Quinn’s paid family leave program is estimated to be roughly $68 million. 

de Blasio’s plan also excludes roughly 1 million working New Yorkers who are self employed, independent contractors, or government employees.  Quinn's plan would provide paid leave to these categories of workers.

In addition to paid family leave, Quinn’s women’s agenda would put in place an emergency diaper program to provide families in need with an emergency source of free diapers, ensuring that a lack of adequate diapers is not a barrier to child care or secure employment. The challenge of being able to afford diapers can have consequences for working families as most childcare centers do not accept children whose parents can not provide an adequate supply of diapers. Low-income parents struggling from paycheck to paycheck may find themselves without diapers or the cash to buy them and thereby face the choice of missing work and as a result suffer from a loss wages or even, over time, their jobs.  

A recent study found that one out of every three parents in America has struggled to provide enough diapers for their children. In addition to the economic consequences, the health risks associated with unclean diapers make this problem even more pressing.  As Mayor, Chris will work with the Food Bank to establish New York City's first Diaper Bank, which will be supported through a public-private partnership and will provide diapers at Food Bank pantries.

Quinn’s women’s agenda also calls for strengthening non-discrimination laws related to pregnancy in New York City. Current laws that prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace do not explicitly require workplace accommodations that make it possible for women to maintain a healthy pregnancy and continue to effectively perform their jobs. As mayor, Chris would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women at their request.

An additional part of the policy agenda would mandate the New York City Public Housing Authority (NYCHA) provide priority access to affordable housing for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in order to provide safe and stable shelter for abused and exploited women. 

“While a lot of people running for mayor talk a lot about being progressives, that’s all they do: talk about it,” continued Quinn. “We need an effective progressive –someone who doesn’t just talk about delivering for women and families, but actually does. My plan for paid family leave doesn’t depend on Albany passing a tax hike, my plan lets me do it right here in New York City.”

Over the course of her time as Speaker of the City Council, Quinn has passed numerous pieces of progressive legislation including Living and Prevailing Wage laws, the Paid Sick Leave law, the Responsible Banking Act, the Safe Housing Act, and the Tenant Protection Act.