Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Harris Lirtzman worked for the City Comptroller and he was also Deputy State Comptroller. I think it is fair to say he is an expert on government finances.

Harris has been kind enough to figure out approximately what paid family leave would cost all teachers based on what the city managers are paying for the benefit and other statistics. He used the city managers' numbers and then did a comparison using the size of the teaching force. His projections are based on the Gina Bellafonte column in the NY Times and other information that is available to the public. They should be taken as an approximation and not literally.

For those who do not wish to go through the specifics on the numbers, the cost to all of us for the paid family leave benefit for 12 weeks at full salary should be a loss of about $6.96 from our semi-monthly paychecks.

Again, please note this number is an approximation and should not be taken as exact. The cost might even be less if non-teachers in the UFT are included in the pool as the majority of non-teachers are paraprofessionals who would drive the cost down. However, it might be a little higher too since teachers are probably younger on average than the city managers and thus might be more likely to use the benefit. However, in all cases, we don't need to lose half of our sick bank, the February break or much at all for new parents to receive a paid leave benefit.

What surprised me about the figures is the average teachers salary is $66,000. Considering we currently top out at over $113,000 a year and start at $54,000, the teaching force is very inexperienced. That explains a great deal about how our union and our employer look down upon us veterans. That is a story for another post.

Here are the details on the cost of paid family leave from Harris:

I thought it was time to put some numbers to all this disembodied talk about give-backs or having women teachers pay for parental leave themselves.  These estimates are based partly on information in the Gina Bellafonte column I sent you and other publicly available sources:

1. Number of non-unionized City employees (20,000) who used parental leave since it became effective in December 2015= 436 or 2.2%So, assume 218 or 1.1% per year.

2. Number of NYC teachers= 75,000

3. Number of NYC teachers who might use parental leave per year= 75,000 x 0.011% = 825 teachers/year

4. Average salary of NYC teacher= $66,000.

5. Approximate annual payroll of NYC teachers= $4.95 billion.

6. Annual cost to City to provide parental leave to UFT members= 825 x $66,000 x 12/52= $12,565,384

7. Cost of parental leave per NYC school teacher=$12,565,384/75,000= $167/year or $13.91/month or $3.48/week.

8. Cost of parental leave for every teacher who thought she/he would want it and paid annually into a reserve fund of some sort= $12,565,384/218= $57,639/year or $4,803/month or $1,200/week.  OK, let’s assume the teacher would pay the cost over three years so $19,213/year or $1,601/month or $400/week.


  • This is nothing but the “law of large numbers” applied to parental leave.  We apply the “law of large numbers” to most things that have social and economic utility but which cost a lot of money—it’s the reason why we each pay a relatively small amount of our salaries to pay for health care for everyone rather than requiring only those smart enough to know when they’re going to get sick to pay for it themselves.
  • The actual cost may be more or less.  It’s possible that more teachers are women than in the sample from non-unionized City employees. It’s probable that younger teachers will take parental leave and it's possible that there are more young teachers than in the sample.  But young teachers are paid a lot less than the average salary.  Hard to know how this would all cross-cut. Let’s assume it costs twice as much—double the figures in Line Nos. 7 and 8.
  • The managers paid by perhaps twice what the two year experience with parental leave seems to cost per the Bellafonte column.
I don’t know what the usual practice is for calculating the cost of a “give-back” in City labor negotiations. If it’s the cost of a new benefit against the total existing payroll then the give-back would be $12.6 million/$4.95 billion= 0.25% which seems reasonable and is about half the cost that the managers paid.  If it’s the cost of the give-back against the cost of the annual raise then it would be a large number.  I’m guessing it’s the first…


Michael Fiorillo said...

Thank you, Harris.

Maybe these (approximate) numbers will make solidarity with our fellow teachers a little easier for those commenting on this site who get all bent out shape on this issue.

DCGMentor said...

Love Harris's work, but to me the bigger issue is in this statement: "What surprised me about the figures is the average teachers salary is $66,000. Considering we currently top out at over $113,000 a year and start at $54,000, the teaching force is very inexperienced."

Compare that with suburban districts with averages over $100K because work force STAYS.

Michael Fiorillo said...


That churn and turnover in NYC is a feature, not a bug.

Given its 'druthers, the DOE would have a teaching force composed entirely of obedient, intimidated 25 year old's, who have a cup of coffee in the classroom and then leave.

And given what so-called reform has done to so many schools, you can't really blame them. I feel grateful every day that I got in when I did, and am getting out soon, but feel awful for those colleagues with years to go...

Unknown said...

I'd take cuts to the paycheck over loss of the February break or CAR days in a heartbeat.Those who pull their union dues after Janus won't even notice deductions similar to the estimated figure. There needs to be solidarity on this issue rather than the future parents vs the non parents and those who already went through the process without paid leave.

The $66,000 average is troubling. I hope the mid-level teachers who look down upon ATRs see the writing on the wall.

Anonymous said...

Will male teachers be afforded the same leave?

Anonymous said...

No wonder our principal hates us. Our average salary is 92K.

Anonymous said...

$6.96 every other week? Jesus, I could buy an extra 30 pack of cheap beer with that 14 bucks every month. No way! Ha, just kidding. If the cost REALLY is that low, I have no problem paying into this. Seems to me that it does not even really need to be bargained with the city as we would pay for it our selves. Seems like the UFT could set up the way this is funded through our checks. However, knowing the DOE, they are probably gonna want something else from us because once teachers get paid maternity leave there is gonna be a shit ton of teachers out from every school every year taking advantage of this. That means lots of subs and lots of coverages are going to be needed. What say the hive???

Anonymous said...

Right, and the city could have paid us the retro in 2014, we will be giving and giving again and again. Be ready...

Steve said...

Now they make me do unpaid coverages ans says its my c6 period...You belive this?

Anonymous said...

I think your estimated cost is a bit too high considering that many teachers who give birth will become ineligible for the full 12 weeks leave by having a portion or all of that time occur during the summer. Unlike city managers, we don't work for 1/6 of the calendar year.

Unless, of course, you are working under the assumption that mothers of summer babies would entitle you to the first 12 weeks of the school year off. That would be another big change from current practice, a woman who has an early summer baby is not permitted to take her six/eight weeks of maternity leave in the fall.

James Eterno said...

Male teachers can get the same leave. It is paid parental leave.

Anonymous said...


You say that male teachers would also be able to take paid parental leave, but what about a husband and wife with a newborn who both work for the DOE? I ask because currently a husband and wife who are both teachers are prohibited from taking unpaid child care leave at the same time (which seems pretty unfair to me especially when we have to forfeit both salary and health coverage to take childcare leave).

Unitymustgo! said...

Cool calculations. Question: Where is cost for substituites? If 825 teachers are taking Parental leave per year, then not accounting for summer, that would be by my calculations another possible $8.5 mil per year. Substitute pay $177 x 5 x 12 = $10,620 per teacher in Substitute costs. Multiply this by 825 = $8,761,500. So, maybe double the estimated cost? Still not that bad. Might be less do to summer and utilizing ATRs.

Harris Lirtzman said...


You make a good point. I did think about the cost of substitutes. I think your calculation makes sense.

In the end, the actual cost could be more or less than my estimate because the data I had at hand only really allowed me to make an "order of magnitude" calculation. I was concerned that there have been a lot of comments here and elsewhere about the cost of any give-back connected with parental leave that weren't based on anything beyond the barest hunch.

Like everyone else, I hope it doesn't cost an active teacher anything but the greater likelihood is that members will pay for most of it. There may be factors which bring the cost down or push it up but I think we can safely say that it's not likely to be big enough to break anyone's retirement planning but that it is certainly much too large to expect the recipients of parental leave to pay for it themselves, as many people have been advocating.

Anonymous said...

What about doing free coverages and calling it your C6 period?

James Eterno said...

DOE is already paying for the coverages with unpaid leave so that should not be increased by that much if it is a paid benefit although it would if it is a 12 week benefit. However, the benefit could be for only 6 or 8 weeks. Who knows?

To the person who is getting unpaid coverages during the C6 period, grieve it and demand back pay for any coverage done during c6 time. Email if you need help filing.

Anonymous said...

C6 is not suppose to be a teaching period. If they make you teach or cover a class you should get paid . Besides a grievance have it raised in consultation. That worked for me.

Anonymous said...

Just like everything else the UFT does, I'll believe it when I see it.

Dr_Dru said...

Instead of calculating what it would cost US, calculate what it would it add to the tax bill of NYC residents or NYS residents. If the annual cost is $12,565,384 and the population of NYC is 8+ million and we can assume at least 3+ million are working, that is about 4 dollars added to each taxpayer (love the law of large numbers).

So the UFT should be telling everyone that we took a hit (deferred raises that some of us will not get)for NYC and now it is time for NYC to take a very, very tiny hit for us. Instead of giving us a line about how "negotiations" work

I am 100% for paid parental leave, but please do NOT call it a benefit if it comes out of my paycheck

Dr Dru

James Eterno said...

You make a valid point Dr Dru. The problem is the city will not give in and set this precedent unless they are forced to. What leverage do we have to make the city give us this benefit?

Dr_Dru said...


Since we lack the "mettle" to strike. We could do something novel:

like withhold our voluntary work. Often some of us talk of "babysitting" kids in afterschool or early am programs, even all extra curricular activities. As of the opening of summer school applications arrives announce that UFT staff will not do ANY voluntary activities that benefit all NYC families & children at the end of the 2017 - 2018 school year, and will continue to do so until the City does something to benefit UFT families & children.

Pressure DiBlasio to live up to his liberal "street cred" with this issue by withholding any endorsement for him or anyone else who opposes us, do this in conjunction with New York City Central Labor Council.

Have ads that show all we do before 8 am and after 2:20 that are voluntary. Explain how the rest of the world does this "benefit".

Have the UFT start setting up a fund, including voluntary donations from members and the community for a fund to help people who worked these positions the previous years.

Get the New York City Central Labor Council involved. Get the Working Families party involved.

Anyone else have any ideas?

James Eterno said...

If we are going to try work to rule, it will be regarded as a strike. DOE/city will haul us into perb in about half a second. They would more than likely win based on precedent. May as well really strike. We would not have the mettle to do what you are asking for Dr Dre, just like we won't strike.

Dr_Dru said...


How does not volunteering for voluntary work equal a strike? Is it because it would be an orchestrated move? If this is legal, then we really do not have an effective means of protest.

Then, instead of telling members about the "benefit" of paid parental leave, tell everyone. Then withhold endorsements and donations to those who don't fall in line. Again with the New York City Central Labor Council involved and the Working Families party involved.

Randi could use our (paid by COPE) weekly advertorial in the Sunday New York Times to explain how this is a national problem, with a national solution, not just a UFT benefit problem, with a "give-back" solution.

My fear is that this will bring a real rift into this union.

But perhaps a new leader will emerge.....