Pregnant FDNY worker to de Blasio: Why don’t I get maternity leave?
A day after Mayor Bill de Blasio spent more than half his State of the City speech touting his great accomplishments on behalf of New Yorkers, a pregnant FDNY worker called into his WNYC radio show to ask why she doesn’t get any paid maternity leave.
A woman named Jesse, who said she works as a trauma specialist for the Fire Department, said she’s puzzled why private workers get a benefit that she doesn’t under the New York State Paid Family Leave Act.
“How is the state and the city government implementing an act that requires private employers to provide something for the city and the government that the city and the government refuses to provide for their own workers?” she asked.
De Blasio’s response in a nutshell: Go talk to your union.
“We made an announcement well over a year ago that any union representing our city employees who wants to come forward and come to an understanding on paid parental leave, we’re ready to do that,” he said.
“If your union wants to right now negotiate that with us, we’re ready.”
He pointed to the example of the United Federation of Teachers, which in June negotiated paid family leave into its latest contract with the city.
The mayor also suggested the caller might be mistaken about the state family leave policy not being an option, even though it only covers private employers.
In January 2016, the mayor signed a paid parental leave policy for 20,000 municipal managerial workers who are not represented by unions.
The six weeks of paid leave was funded by retracting planned raises and docking veteran workers a number of vacation days.
“Paid parental leave simply should not be a luxury, it’s something every family needs,” the mayor said at the time. “And it is part of our fight to support working families in New York City.”
Since paid family leave policies require a funding mechanism, the city would need to negotiate how to pay for government employee plans with the unions — or else taxpayers would get stuck with the hefty bill.
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