Should she take a chance, leave it to fate. hope for the best and show up for work so she can update her bulletin boards and otherwise keep up the pace? Or dare she defy the City of New York and risk a career-threatening “unsatisfactory” performance rating for the year based on poor attendance?
And if the New York public school teacher is an adoptive mother or father, forget it. They simply don’t count as parents in the view of the City. Such parents must reserve bonding with their infant for when they’re off the company clock.
The City’s Labor Department has not negotiated paid parental leave with these teachers. Paid parental leave is guaranteed to all workers, unionized or not, in every industrialized nation except ours. The benefits universally available and automatically granted are far more generous and varied than even any union has demanded. Paid parental leave is taken for granted and a way of life in many “developing” countries also.
But New York City’s Labor Commissioner Robert Linn erroneously claims that unions have not historically been particularly interested in paid parental leave anyway, but they may be able to secure it if they sacrifice and surrender from the rich storehouse of their existing fringe perks. That’s how he sees it, intimating that the City he loves is not in the charity business.
The City Council held a hearing about paid parental leave and the City didn’t show up.
If paid parental leave were extended to our municipal workers, the total hit to the City’s purse would be small fraction of its budget surplus.
Paid parental leave is an especially sensitive priority to teachers because they have an uncommonly high concentration of women in their ranks. It’s also noteworthy that even in organizations where women enjoy relatively reasonable pair parental leave, those benefits are far greater for executives than for lower-level employees.
No need to look abroad to realize how backward this City is with regard to paid parental leave. Even the private sector has the momentum and has sometimes shamefully beat.
According to Fortune Magazine, even Walmart, a perennial nemesis of unions,gives “ten paid weeks for full-time birth mothers and six weeks at full pay for other new parents.” They cite other companies, such as Intel, Apple, CVS, Amazon, Starbucks, Facebook and Google among the rapidly expanding list coming on board.
Who could have imagined that the City of New York would trail even corporate bottom-feeder Walmart in instituting a policy of decency and fairness to workers?
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew’s vigorous advocacy for paid parental leave is on the mark and should be praised and joined by all New Yorkers.