US Labor Secretary Perez draws inspiration from Buffalo roots

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said Tuesday paid family leave should be the rule rather than the exception at both the state and federal levels. And that New York’s proposal should serve as a model for other states.

“I have absolutely no doubt that paid family medical leave at a federal level is a “when” question,” Perez said Tuesday before representatives of several local organizations.

If approved by the legislators this year, the Empire State would become the fourth in the county to establish employee funded paid time off.

Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul say the proposed program would not cost employers extra, since it would be employees who pay into their own accounts.

Hochul said workers would pay between $0.70 cents to $1.40 each pay period. Perez that type of a system should be attractive to Albany and to companies that call New York home.

“Way too many New Yorkers have to make that tough decision, because they have to decide whether to take time away from their families, whether it’s with their new baby born or taking care of a sick parent,” Hochul said. “They’re losing income that I’ll never be replaced again because they’re living on the edges. These are people on the margins of society and every dollar makes a difference.”

Perez, who grew up in Snyder, says the values he learned then, are what he employs on Capitol Hill.

“I don’t have a PhD in economics, but I do have a PhD in Buffalomics, and that’s the remarkable privilege of going up here,” he said. “The town in which we look after each other, we believe in shared prosperity, we believe in the rising tide should float all boats, we believe that ZIP Codes should not determine destiny.”

He also said it’s that motivation that keeps him focused, despite many during the past few weeks saying he’s Hillary Clinton’s top pick for vice president.

“When I meet people every day who are struggling, I’m very very motivated,” he said. “So my focus is laser-like on making sure we stand up for his many people as possible.”

Perez says people should support what he described as a 21st century notion, and that family dynamics are changing.

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