One man remembered the anguished nights he spent at the bedside of his fatally ill son. The other spoke movingly about the last days he spent with his dying father.
Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Andrew Cuomo drew from their own experiences of recent loss on Friday to push for Cuomo's plan to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave in New York state, which would be among the most generous state plans in the nation.
The leave could be used for childbirth, adoption or to care for a sick or dying relative. Biden, whose son Beau died last year, choked up as he discussed the decisions people have to make for fear of losing their jobs.
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"How do you choose between leaving the bedside of your dying son or daughter to go to work?" Biden asked at a rally in Manhattan. "Because if you don't go to work, you may not be able to afford to turn the light on in your son's apartment."
Cuomo, who wants the State Legislature to pass his plan this spring, is proposing that the program be funded by small deductions to employees' paychecks, likely no more than 60 cents a week.
The program would begin in January 2018 and employees, to start, would be eligible for 35 percent of their pay each week. By 2021, it will increase to 50 percent.
Only three states — California, Rhode Island and New Jersey — currently have paid family leave plans, though 18 others are considering them. New York City just moved to increase its plan to six weeks of fully paid leave to 20,000 non-union municipal workers and Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for the city's unions to follow suit.
Some business leaders, including the state Business Council, have moved to oppose Cuomo's plan and previous discussions had been opposed by Republicans who control the State Senate.
Cuomo, who was also joined by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, some state leaders and model-turned-family rights activist Christy Turlington, has been loudly championing economically progressive cause in recent months and linked the paid leave plan to call his to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
"You shouldn't have to choose between losing your job and being in debt and being a decent human being," the governor said. "This is about restoring economic sanity to workers."