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Gillibrand attends state fair, calls out presidential candidates on the issue of paid leave

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at an event at the New York State Fair on Wednesday.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) encouraged New York State Fair attendees to build on the legacy of women’s rights in New York state. Gillibrand was the keynote speaker for the fair's Women's Day on Wednesday. She said 87 percent of the American workforce has no access to paid leave in the case of a medical or family emergency.

Gillibrand has introduced a bill that would give every worker access to paid leave. It would be an earned benefit that workers and employers pay into at a rate of about two dollars a week.  

"I think this is the issue for the 2016 presidential campaign," Gillibrand said. "I think it is the issue presidential candidates should care about. I hope that all of us demand that every single candidate who's running for president this year, will say where they stand on paid leave."

Gillibrand said America is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have paid leave.

Gillibrand also said to the audience that they should fight for what they believe in. She told the story of two young women who had been raped in college and who came into Gillibrand's office asking for help, to hold their schools accountable when no one would believe them. Gillibrand is a co-sponsor on legislation introduced that would require higher education institutions that participate in student assistance programs, to share information on sexual violence with law enforcement.

"They are going to get justice," Gillibrand said. "I think the greatest lesson from these two women is they spoke from their hearts and they spoke passionately about something that affected them and affected others."

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.