I asked about Seattle in yesterday's post. Out there the government picked up the cost for Paid Family Leave for its employees. That's how it should be in NYC too. Mayor Bill de Blasio says he wants to make NYC the fairest city in America. Paid Family Leave is much better than just Paid Parental Leave because any employee can use it to care for a sick relative. It's not just to take care of infants. Perhaps the Emerald City in the Pacific Northwest is too far away and too progressive to have much bearing on NYC.
What about college professors in SUNY? Are they close enough to matter for us on this issue?
New York State has budget problems unlike NYC. The state had a $4.4 billion budget hole to close as of January. The budget was eventually balanced without that much difficulty which is not surprising. In this fiscally tight atmosphere, Governor Andrew Cuomo could have easily cried poverty when dealing with the SUNY union, the United University Professions. Instead, Cuomo intervened for whatever reason and found funding for a wide ranging Paid Family Leave benefit as part of the UUP contract last month that also includes 2% annual salary increases. The benefit will pay up to 67% of average salary for up to 12 weeks. Again, this is part of the contract so it is a new benefit on top of a raise. That's called a union gain.
This is from the Chief Leader. Fred Kowal is the UUP President.
The union, whose membership is 53 percent female, did not have to make any concessions to obtain the benefit, according to Mr. Kowal. He praised Mr. Cuomo for the state’s willingness to work with the union on the issue.
“The Governor had made a firm commitment that he wanted this for municipal employees,” he said.
The UFT settling for a narrow Paid Parental Leave as an extension of the contract set the precedent that UFT members will have to pay for Paid Family Leave in NYC. We now have a 0% increase for about 30% of a school year thanks to the UFT twice extending the present contract. We will surely get hosed by the city if we want to expand Paid Parental Leave to Paid Family Leave. It's not coming for free like at SUNY.
Wouldn't the UFT and other city unions have been wiser to wait until the contract was up and make this part of the next settlement rather than do this on the eve of Janus as more of a public relations move than anything else? We could have used the UUP settlement with SUNY as a precedent and waged a real fight for a comprehensive Paid Family Leave benefit.
We would have had to use these simple words in negotiations:
"UUP got comprehensive Paid Family Leave with the state; the city is in much better financial shape compared to the state; we demand Paid Family Leave too at the city's expense." In union negotiations parlance, "ME TOO!" Then, put on a full court press asking if teaching parents in NYC are not valued like college professor parents at SUNY.
Don't call us Monday morning quarterbacks and tell me that I should have said this beforehand. Read our June 6 post. We hoped the UFT and other city unions would use the state precedent and ram it home with the city's better financial position but the UFT as usual accepted the city's terms although we can say they were modified a bit so it really looks like a wash. Much more to come when contract is settled.