Chicago Teachers Union welcomes significant agreement as important step toward historic partnership with district leaders
CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Thursday welcomed an historic agreement that will provide all public school employees, the vast majority of whom are women, expanded maternity and parental leave of 12 weeks, in line with the expanded leave offered to other city employees since last year.
CTU President Stacy Davis Gates said the new policy is an important step toward equity for CPS workers, 80 percent of whom are female, compared to the mostly male city workforce.
“This new policy is one of the most important and significant expansions of our members’ rights outside of our contract negotiations. And let me be clear, this policy makes sense and it should never be a subject at the negotiating table,” Davis Gates said. “This should be the norm for every woman who works in any industry — and any parent who works in any industry — to nurture their child, but to also have an opportunity to heal their bodies.”
CTU members will be able to use the new paid leave during the first year of a new baby, whether through birth, adoption or foster care and the new policy can be applied to both birth parents and non-birth parents.
“As a mother and an educator, I remember the hardship my family endured when I had my three children,” she said. “Expanded parental leave will remove one of the major stresses faced by mothers and new parents working in our schools. And it will also help us recruit and retain educators because you now have a school district that is willing to see you as a whole person and is willing to support your personhood.”
The union’s current contract with CPS, which expires next year, allows a minimum of two-weeks paid leave if a member is eligible for FMLA, but after the city expanded paid leave for other non-CPS employees, the union demanded parity in the policy for Chicago educators. The 12-week leave, announced Thursday, builds on an agreement the CTU reached last year with CPS that then Mayor Lori Lightfoot ultimately quashed.
Davis Gates said the new agreement is another step toward an historic partnership between CPS and CTU being fostered under Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration. The first step shortly before Mayor Johnson’s inauguration was a joint meeting she and CPS CEO Pedro Martinez held with state legislators in May to discuss increased funding for CPS.
“To say that I am almost speechless at this moment is an understatement,” Davis Gates added. “And to say that I am grateful for the leadership of Mayor Johnson and CEO Martinez is equally an understatement. I am thankful for this moment and I am thankful we got here together.”
Implementation details are still being worked out, but the new expanded leave is expected to take effect for the 2023 – 2024 school year.