N.J. Senate Passes
Paid Family Leave
OnLine at NBC10.com, April 7, 2008
There was a big
victory for workers in New Jersey Monday as the state Senate
voted to approve a paid family leave bill.
There were numerous arguments against the bill, but despite
that, the full Senate voted to approve it.
Laurie Pettine brought her daughter to the Statehouse in Trenton
to show support for paid family leave.
"I have epilepsy. And one of the reasons why I'm no longer with
my job is because I would have taken family leave insurance but
I couldn't afford it, the family medical leave insurance. And if
there was paid leave, I would have had more options at that
period of time when I was getting pregnant," Pettine, of
Dozens of other mothers, some also with children, packed Senate
chambers to watch the debate over this historic measure.
The family leave bill would allow six weeks of paid leave to
workers who care for a baby or newly adopted child, as well as a
sick child, spouse or parent.
Lauren Agoratus said her daughter, Stephanie, is autistic.
"My husband and I used the Family Medical Leave Act, and thank
goodness that was in effect so we kept our jobs but we almost
lost our home. Between lost wages and all our medical bills, it
was a really rough time. You know, we went $20,000 in
debt," Agoratus, of Hamilton, said.
"I would be able to not just keep my job but not have the worry
will my husband have to work a million hours," Agoratus said.
Maretta Short recalled difficult choices when her mother was
"At the time when she really needed me the most I couldn't be
there. I was forced to choose between paying my bills and
caring for my mother," Short, of East Orange, said.
According to the measure, after July 2009, workers would get
two-thirds of their pay or up to $524 a week and everyone who
works in New Jersey would have their pay deducted by $33 each
Supporters said that's an increase of less than $1 in payroll
taxes. But opponents said New Jersey simply can't afford
"In New Jersey, we've lost over 11,000 jobs. We have a
state budget where we are experiencing a tremendous shortfall,
and we have an unemployment insurance trust fund that just went
belly-up last week. So we have some incredible issues here in
New Jersey, none of which are being addressed and instead this
huge mandate is being passed today," John Rogers, of NJ Business
& Industry Association, said.
"From the educational prospective we're concerned because when
teachers take paid family leave, they have to be replaced, we
can't not replace those teachers. And if there's a long
break in service we have to have a substitute that can come in
and pick up with the curriculum," Michael Vrancik, of the New
Jersey School Board Association, said.
Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign the bill into law.
If the bill becomes law, the payroll deductions would begin the
Jan. 1, 2009. Employees must then apply for the family