De Blasio Fails To Give Public School Teachers Maternity Leave


The New York City Department of Education (DOE) does not offer paid parental leave for union workers, nor does the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union provide their members with any parental leave benefits, Kings County Politics has learned.

City Council Candidate for the 43rd district Nancy Tong first made public the issue last week in calling for paid maternity leave for New York City schoolteachers.

Nancy Tong

“Public school teachers are our everyday heroes,” said Tong. “Paid maternity leave for unionized city teachers is essential for women and our communities. As a mother who recognizes the critical role a teacher plays in providing a quality education to our children, I will speak out as Councilwoman to demand an end to the current discriminatory practices and the implementation of a fair policy of paid leave which protects teachers’ rights to care for and bond with their own children.”

The current system mandates UFT employees use up to six weeks of their paid vacation time with the option of borrowing up to 20 days of paid leave in the event they do not have sick days.

Paid paternal leave for union members must be negotiated under collective-bargaining rules.  In 2015, the mayor negotiated paid leave for 20,000 non-unionized city workers and opened the door to negotiations with union leaders.  

De Blasio’s plan, which took effect Dec. 2016, covered six weeks of paid leave at 100 percent of salary for parents who have given birth, adopted a child, or taken a child into foster care. Parents can use up to 12 weeks when combined with regular sick and vacation time.

Yet negotiations to provide unionized city workers with a parental leave plan remain ongoing although women represent 76 percent of schoolteachers. KCP reached out to both agencies to uncover where the UFT and the city stand on their discussions.

“Family leave is an important issue for the UFT and its members, but in our talks so far the city has failed to come up with a meaningful proposal,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT.

Over a year ago, Mulgrew warned that negotiations would come with a price. When the Mayor’s Office instituted the paid parental leave for nonunion city workers, the office also canceled a 0.47 percent raise for some managers and reduced the number of leave days for its longest-serving city employees in exchange as reported on the UFT site.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

De Blasio spokesperson Freddie Goldstein responded that paid parental leave remains one of the mayor’s major priorities.

“We had initial discussions with the UFT and we look forward to continuing our discussions, as we will with any union interested. It’s a benefit that must be dealt with during contract negotiations and we will be having those conversations as part of the next round of collective bargaining,” said Goldstein 

While negotiations remain ongoing, Tong has called for support of an online petition drive to help NYC teachers fight for paternal leave.

“Bonding between parents and children in the early months and years establish the foundations of children’s cognitive and social development,” said Tong. “These are not luxuries, but necessities that are vital for healthy communities. We need to support, not penalize, our teachers who build families of their own.”


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