When Mayor de Blasio signed a much-touted order mandating paid parental leave for city employees, he said “the last thing new parents should have to worry about is their financial and professional security.”
But two years later, thousands of city workers are still worrying about just that — because the city’s order applied to just 20,000 managerial employees, not the unionized workers who make up the bulk of the city’s payroll.
“I keep trying to get this done and the city keeps hemming and hawing and there’s always a reason, ‘Oh we’ll get back to you,'” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told the Daily News. “There clearly isn’t a political will to get it done.”
Michael Mulgrew, the president of United Federation of Teachers. (Jeff Bachner, New York Daily News)
But Mulgrew is hoping to apply a little political pressure as his contract — and those of many other municipal unions — wind down this year. He’ll attend a rally on the City Hall steps with Councilman Mark Treyger, the education chairman, to call attention to the complete lack of paid parental leave for the city’s school teachers.
“They’ve been hearing the term paid family leave from a variety of politicians, but when you actually examine up close the policies for working families, there is no such thing,” he said.
For teachers, if they want to be paid during parental leave, they’ve got to use accumulated sick time. If they don’t have enough, they can buy future days — and end their parental leave indebted to the city.
In January, Walmart announced it would offer full-time hourly workers 10 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, and fathers and partners 6 weeks.
“What does it say that Walmart shows a better commitment to working families?” Treyger asked.
For unionized workers, such policies must be hashed out as part of their collective bargaining agreement. But Mulgrew argued that, after the mayor full-throatedly embraced the benefits of paid leave for parents in other jobs, it ought not be a bargaining chip.
“The fact that somebody would say that this is good for all workers and then try to manipulate a process, to try to create leverage for it, to try to get something else out of those workers, to me, is disingenuous — and nobody should be taking political victory laps,” Mulgrew said.
He said it was “nefarious” that the city especially sought to get concessions for the benefits from the UFT because “you’re the union that is mostly female.”
“This is supposed to be about paid parental leave,” he said.