Wednesday, September 27, 2017

UFT ExBd: Susan Hibdon Calls Out Union Leaderhip on Parental Leave

My message to you tonight has two parts: One, our union needs to get serious about paid parental leave. Two, our union needs to actively seek out our input, AND to be transparent.... We know it’s complicated, we know it takes sacrifice. We are willing to give something up. I’m not having any more kids, but I’m willing to give up. ..... Not surprised UFT doesn’t know how important it is. UFT has never asked. Didn’t even know these meetings happened until last week.  My union doesn’t know what my interests are. We want three things.
  • We want this on agenda at next meeting.
  • We want it on website so members know.
  • We need to know what members want. UFT should survey. I’ve never seen one.
We feel like there’s little effort. Maybe you’re doing something, but we don’t know what. Coming back in two weeks to check....... Susan Hibdon
As a follow-up to the Emily James post (What Emily James Said to Mulgrew at the UFT Ex Bd on Parental Care), here is her colleague Susan Hibdon. J

ust a note re: the comparison to parking permits. Fact is since Bloomberg tampered with the parking permit issue, this is a very important issue to a lot of  people, and possibly more so for people with children -- more of them probably live further away and need to take their cars and when there is no parking it is a nightmare. I'm heading down to the UFT's first chapter leader meeting of the year, where we might hear more on this issue.
Emily and Susan

Susan Hebdon
Emily and I, like many, many others in the DOE, have complained for years about our utter lack of parental leave. We have spoken to our UFT rep, we have written letters, we have sent emails, and we’ve never gotten a meaningful response. What finally set us off and prompted us to start a petition was the UFT’s announcement last spring that it had negotiated a deal with the city so that all teachers would now be able to receive...parking permits. Our initial response was, how our union so tone-deaf and out of touch that they think parking permits are what we want? Clearly, all of our attempts to communicate had not been effective. Not knowing about the existence of these executive board meetings, or any other way to get our message to the ears of the UFT, Emily started the petition that night.

My message to you tonight has two parts: One, our union needs to get serious about paid parental leave. Two, our union needs to actively seek out our input, AND to be transparent.

On the first point: We NEED paid parental leave for all employees who become parents, whether through birth or adoption. The UFT has had years to negotiate a deal with the city, and the Mayor is clearly willing to find a solution; our union needs to step up and make a deal. With every day that you wait around for a better deal, another mother who is still physically recovering from birth is forced back to work after six weeks; another father who wants to be involved in family life is forced back to work after three days, no matter how many CAR days he has saved up; another adoptive parent who has barely even met his or her child is forced back to work after only three days. Waiting for a better deal is a bad deal for all of us.

We know this is a complicated issue, but it is also a solvable one. Many other school systems with fewer resources than the NYC DOE have found ways to offer parental leave (Look at Prince George’s County, MD, or California). Not only is it possible to solve it, it’s necessary. About 76% of DOE teachers are women, and about half of those are under 40. That’s a lot of potential babies. Some might argue that the proportion of teachers who are women in child-bearing years makes the problem more difficult to solve, but it also means that the problem is more important to solve and that the UFT's members are more willing to work with the city to find a solution. We know it won't be free, we know we'll have to give something, and we are willing to do that because this is so important.

On the second point: I’m not necessarily surprised that the UFT doesn’t know how important this issue is to its members, or that the UFT doesn’t know that its members are willing to make sacrifices to make paid parental leave a reality. How would you know? You’ve never asked. I’ve never gotten a survey from the UFT. I didn’t know that these board meetings existed until last week, because the UFT doesn’t publicize them. My union--which is supposed to represent me--which exists to represent my interests--has no idea what my interests are. Not only that, I don’t see any sign that my union is trying to find out what my interests are.

At your next executive board meeting, the issue of paid parental leave needs to be an agenda item. In fact, it needs to be the only agenda item. That meeting, like every executive board meeting in the future, needs to be publicly announced on the UFT’s online calendar of events so that members know they can attend and have their voices heard. And the UFT needs to actively seek to know what its members want, what our priorities are, and what we are willing to give.

You can see that we are frustrated--partially with this seemingly endless battle for parental leave, and partially with a lack of effort on the part of our union. Maybe you’re doing something for us, but we’re not seeing it.
If you haven't started yet, watch the must see PBS Ken Burns series on Vietnam --- amazing how similar to today's times. Nixon can make Trump look normal.

Also I was thinking -- I am more and more satisfied that I voted for Hillary instead of 3rd party every day despite my many anti-Hillary feelings. I am less and less willing to fall in the left line that she would be only marginally better. I wonder when the day comes that Bernie people who voted for Trump smack themselves in the head and say "What have I done?"

1 comment:

  1. "We" are wiling to give things up? This woman does not speak for I, or the tens of thousands of other NYC teachers who either already had kids or never plan on having kids of our own. Since the 70,000 teachers who signed this petition want paid maternity leave but are willing to give things up, they should ask the DOE to create a special pool for expectant mothers where they can reduce their sick days or reduce their yearly pay. In fact, I do not think that 70,000 actual UFT teachers singed this online petition to begin with. I bet the majority of people who singed the petition are just regular folks who believe in paid maternity leave. I asked a bunch of teachers at my school if they heard of the petition and not one said that they had.


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