Governor Newsom Denies CSU Employees Adequate Paid Parental Leave
SACRAMENTO – CFA members are deeply disappointed that Governor Newsom passed on the chance to correct long-standing wrongs and vetoed Assembly Bill 2464 to expand paid parental leave for California State University workers.
“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Governor Newsom is unwilling to provide the same parental care, leave, or support he claims to champion in his polished press releases. In vetoing AB 2464, the governor is complicit in continuing long-standing inequities at the CSU. Faculty from across the state have shared horror stories about grading students’ assignments while in labor and returning to work days after adopting or giving birth. This outrage must stop,” said Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA vice president, North, Sacramento State professor, and member of CFA’s Parents and Caregivers Coalition.
CFA members are resolved and committed to continue our legislative advocacy next year for better paid parental leave for faculty, our families, and our students. We also will continue our efforts to gain caregiving supports for CSU faculty, and partner with community groups and unions to expand paid parental leave for all California workers so all employees can access the benefits they deserve.
“We recognize that, with much of our legislative ambitions aimed at eradicating racism and cultivating social justice, it can take more than one attempt to achieve success,” Berta-Ávila said.
Newsom’s veto message speaks of “cost pressures” on the CSU and suggests that the matter be addressed via the collective bargaining process. His message is silent on the very real “cost pressures” imposed on CSU workers forced to exhaust sick leave and then take unpaid leave to care for their new children.
As the CFA Bargaining Team can attest, CSU management bluntly refused to address this systemic inequity, stating as their rationale that the CSU is in line with federally mandated minimum parental leave affordances. Clearly, their position flies in the face of the governor’s attempts to refer this issue to the collective bargaining process. We note also that the provisions of AB 2464 would have applied to non-faculty staff and student workers as well, groups that CFA does not bargain for.
CFA-sponsored AB 2464 would have required the CSU to provide one semester of paid parental leave for workers following the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. Currently, faculty receive 30 days of paid parental leave, nowhere near the doctor-recommended 12 weeks needed to bond with and care for children, but also the time needed for new parents to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally.
California must forever shut the parenting and caregiving equity gap that burdens women, particularly women of color, with indignity and lack of quality time at work and at home.
CFA members have advocated for change for more than three years – including through contract bargaining – and CSU management refused to be a willing partner. 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.
Providing CSU employees with a minimum of a full semester of paid parental leave would benefit students in many ways: if faculty are provided a semester off, there is less manipulation of schedules, less pressure on faculty to find replacement instructors, and students have the benefit of continuity of instruction throughout the semester.
CFA has tremendous appreciation for Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) who authored AB 2464 and worked with CFA members and other allies to ensure the bill passed the state senate and assembly.
CFA members’ efforts started in January 2020 with a faculty petition demanding more paid parental leave. The hardships facing faculty parents became even more difficult during COVID-19. CFA members hosted a COVID-19 relief townhall for 400 members 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; this group has seen the same inactivity and obstruction from management in this CSU-wide workgroup.
Michelle Hatfield: 916-612-8779
Kody Leibowitz: 916-947-6258
Filiberto Nolasco Gomez: 916-502-0023
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.