Monday, September 25, 2017

Child Care Leave Issue Front and Center at UFT Ex Bd - Come see the show

SPOTLIGHT ON THE UFT'S MATERNITY LEAVE POLICY: Later today, New York City schoolteacher Emily James will attend the United Federation of Teachers' executive board meeting deliver a petition with around 78,000 signatures calling on the union to implement a maternity leave policy. 

NY1 reporter Lindsey Christ laid out the current policy in a series of tweets: "Policies that assume only women should care for infants are inherently sexist, negatively impacting working women (and parenting fathers!) ... And here is city and @UFT policy: Only women who physically give birth are even allowed to use their own sick days. And only for six weeks ... Female, straight teachers with no fertility issues try to plan pregnancies so children are born in the summer. Everyone else is out of luck." Even the Department of Education's own LGBT community liaison, Jared Fox, criticized the policy on Twitter, writing, "This very much affects same sex couples. I encourage LGBT UFT members to join this effort." See the petition here.....  Politico, morning NY ed report
I'm heading over to the UFT Ex Bd meeting later. Emily James is the heroine of the day - she has managed on her own to garner super attention to this issue.

Kudos to MORE's Mike Schirtzer for contacting her and telling her about the UFT Ex Bd option for speaking time before the meeting and also for offering the services of the MORE/NA EB people for follow-up. Two weeks ago MORE people did bring this up and the UFT leadership responded --- First UFT Ex Bd Meeting of Year - A Stephen King H...

I'll have more on this after the meeting but here are some notes for now.

One comment in a school was from a man:
I think mothers definitely deserve paid maternity leave.  However, what greatly concerns me is that fathers are left out of this petition.  As a father who wants to share the responsibility of parenting, I have found it extremely difficult.  It is a travesty that mothers have to borrow days after exhausting their CAR, but what is also terrible is that fathers don't even have that option.  Fathers are allowed the three personal days, and that's it.  Schools with understanding principals might find a work-around, but the work-arounds certainly don't eliminate the job-stress during a very stressful time.
(Obviously, both mothers and fathers have access to FMLA, but who can honestly afford that?)
I don't know about you, but I am all on board with the deal the rest of the state got.  I would love to pay more into disability and then use that when necessary to take care of my healing wife and newborn child.
I signed the petition, but maybe we can broaden its horizon?
Mike replied:
When we speak on executive board, we always discuss it as family or parental leave. The UFT leadership has been using the terminology "family leave". Emily James who created the petition that went viral, she and her colleagues are women elementary school teachers and moms- they are not affiliated with any caucus. She is presenting this on behalf of the nearly 80,000 that signed- MORE/NA will support her in any way we can, as we hope our brothers and sisters in Unity caucus will do the same. We will also bring up the other petition. (MORE garnered 3000 sigs last year).
On the second point -I do think we disagree that the deal the others got is acceptable- I would read this great analysis by member and friend James Eterno

I would sum it up as our position is there should be no givebacks, parental leave in a membership that is over 75% female and a majority are primary caregivers should have already happened, needs to happen now, and come without give back of wages or days. - ms
Also see:

Please support the signers of the petition who will present to the UFT Executive Board.
6:00pm at 52 Broadway NYC.

Share the petition on your social media and in your chapter 

Read more about it here

From the petition:

New York City Department of Education currently offers their teachers who have just become mothers NO PAID maternity leave. These are women who devote their lives to helping raise other people's children.
After getting pregnant in 2012, I went to a maternity workshop to help understand my maternity benefits. It began as a room full of bubbly, pregnant women, and ended with many of us in tears.
  • Here is what we learned: In order to get paid for up to SIX WEEKS (you read that right-not months, weeks) we would have to use our own small number of saved sick days. If we had none, or few (which was the case for most of us, being around children all day long) we learned that we could borrow up to 20 days that we would eventually have to repay or rebuy.  
Most women never make it out of their negative balance. If you have more than one child, forget it! You have likely borrowed all you can for the first.  When I had my second daughter, even after two years of excellent attendance, I only was able to get paid for seven days after I gave birth.
This is completely common among teaching mothers. 
For all our union fights for, I'm asking Michael Mulgrew, our Union President: When will the fight begin for our teaching mothers? As an education system, we are well aware of the importance a parent's presence has on his/her child. Yet why don't we value that? Why do women who spend day in and day out educating, nurturing, and supporting other people's children, continue to suffer for having a family of their own? We are the teachers and the mothers of this city-- a city that prides itself on being one of the most progressive and socially conscious cities in the world- and we deserve to be fought for.

NO PAID MATERNITY LEAVE FOR NYC TEACHERS — Chalkbeat's Christina Veiga: "Susan Hibdon opened her front door and saw nothing but white. It was a day that would go down in tabloid headline history after schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa declared it 'absolutely a beautiful day,' despite a forecast calling for 10 inches of snow. For Hibdon, a Brooklyn high school teacher, it was memorable for a different reason. It was exactly six weeks after she had given birth, which meant it was time to go back to the classroom." Read more here.


  1. Is there going to be any chance for NYC teachers who DO NOT agree with paid maternity leave to have a say? I do not think that the city should pay for maternity leave. Having a child is a choice and is not the same as getting sick where insurance is needed. The taxpayers should not front the bill for paid maternity leave and NYC teachers who choose to never have kids of their own should not be forced to loose sick days which is the current rumor.

  2. You really should leave the union because you are clueless about what unions do. All advanced nations have childcare leave except this one. Like saying I'm not sick so svctew healthcare.

  3. Paid leave is going to be paid for by somebody. It is either going to be paid for outright by the taxpayers or by UFT members via givebacks. However, paid maternity leave is not the same as healthcare. Everybody gets sick at some time in their career and or will get hurt via accidents of which is no fault of their own. Therefore paid healthcare is essential. On the the other hand, deciding, planning, and then having a child is an individual, willful choice that many, many, people choose to make. That choice is personal and as such, many people have a hard time accepting that other individuals who are not choosing that lifestyle should not have to give up working conditions via givebacks in sick bank reduction, etc. This mentality is not the sole thought of male teachers. There are many female teachers who also choose to live child free by choice.

  4. We all know what our union does. It offers excuses for one shitty deal after another. This will be another shitty deal if all teachers lose sick days to pay for it. I'm not in favor. Roseanne McCosh

    1. Once in a while the union stands up. Bloomberg was offering deals to fire all Atr's and uft resisted tho they screwed Atr's by allowing it in first place. This is like class size. Make this a public battle. I'm finding it hard to get my head around people not supporting this idea since it's a staple of most western nations and even common in our own country in some places.


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