SACRAMENTO — California Faculty Association members’ multi-year efforts to close a long-term equity gap at the California State University by expanding paid parental leave beyond a mere 30 days are closer to reality.
The California Senate overwhelmingly approved CFA-sponsored Assembly Bill 2464 by a vote of 30-9-1 Tuesday. Thank you to Assemblymember Cristina Garcia for authoring AB 2464 and championing expanded paid parental leave, an issue that disproportionately affects women and faculty of color. CFA members strongly urge Gov. Newsom to sign the bill.
“As a Black female who is also caring for my disabled mom, it’s difficult being a new parent and having to balance the new responsibility. Folks of color, many of us come from collectivist communities where we care for family if they need, when they come to our homes: aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents. Sufficient paid parental leave is important so that you know your finances aren’t in jeopardy because you’re taking care of your family,” said Benikia Kressler, associate professor of special education at CSU Fullerton and member of CFA’s Parents and Caregivers Coalition.
CFA members have organized for better paid parental leave and support for years. The CSU currently provides a month of paid parental leave for faculty. AB 2464 would require the CSU to provide one semester of paid parental leave for workers following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.
Parenting and elder care responsibilities fall unequally to women and people of color. By refusing CFA’s attempts to correct this systemic inequity, CSU management is reinforcing a long-term equity gap in which the careers of junior, female, and faculty of color are sidetracked.
“When I found out I was pregnant, I felt overwhelmed. I learned the CSU only provided 30 days of paid parental leave. I was devastated. I learned many faculty use sick time, but I had just started my job – I would not be able to bank enough sick days to have quality time with my newborn. I felt like the university was punishing me – it’s what’s called the baby penalty. We deserve time with our babies. Paid parental leave is a human right,” said Alma Itzé Flores, assistant professor of undergraduate studies in education at Sacramento State and a member of CFA’s Parents and Caregivers Coalition. Flores, along with other CFA members, began a CSU-wide petition demanding expanded parental leave in January 2020.
The hardships facing faculty parents became even more difficult during COVID-19: working parents and caregivers have less time and opportunity to devote to research, mentoring, publishing, and other service work needed for retention, promotion, and tenure.
More than 400 members attended CFA’s COVID-19 relief townhall in February 2021 calling on the CSU administration to provide desperately needed relief for those struggling with working from home while also parenting and caregiving during the pandemic’s shelter-in-place conditions.
To help alleviate the stress, planning, financial strain, and disparate impact on women and faculty of color, CFA’s Bargaining Team proposed extending parental leave to one semester or two terms during 2021’s contract negotiations. Unfortunately, the CSU bargaining team chose to cling to an antiquated leave policy and refused any changes. Part of CFA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires a stakeholder group to continue working toward better support for parents.
“AB 2464’s passage is one more step toward the state of California providing adequate support for parents and for the healthy development of children. Adequate paid parental leave is really important to the personal and professional lives of faculty, and is something everyone should have available to them,” said Nick Henning, parent of birth, adopted, and foster children, education professor at CSU Fullerton, and member of CFA’s Parents and Caregivers Coalition.
CFA members are available for interview; CFA Contacts:
Michelle Hatfield: 916-612-8779
Kody Leibowitz: 916-947-6258
Lisa Cohen: 310-395-2544
ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA FACULTY ASSOCIATION: CFA represents more than 29,000 tenure-line instructional faculty, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches on the 23 campuses of the California State University system, from Cal Poly Humboldt in the north, to San Diego State in the south. Learn more about CFA at www.calfac.org and visit our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.