In a significant development, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) expressed its enthusiastic support for a groundbreaking agreement that grants expanded maternity and parental leave of 12 weeks to all public-school employees, the majority of whom are women.
This new policy aligns with the extended leave provided 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.
“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 President Stacy Davis Gates emphasized the importance of this policy, stating, “This is one of the most crucial and noteworthy expansions of our members’ rights, independent of our contract negotiations. It is evident that this policy should be universally adopted, not only for women in any industry but also for any parent who works, enabling them to care for their child and recover physically.”
Under this agreement, CTU members will have access to extended paid leave during the first year of welcoming a new baby, whether through birth, adoption or foster care. Both birth parents and non-birth parents will be eligible to benefit from this policy.
“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.”
Currently, CTU’s contract with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) allows a minimum of two weeks of paid leave for eligible members under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, after the city extended paid leave for non-CPS employees, the union advocated for parity in leave policies for Chicago educators. The newly announced 12-week leave builds upon an agreement previously reached by CTU and CPS, which was ultimately overturned by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
According to Davis Gates, the newly established agreement marks another stride in the development of a significant partnership between CPS and CTU under the leadership of Mayor Brandon Johnson. This collaboration began taking shape prior to Mayor Johnson’s inauguration, with a joint meeting held by Davis Gates, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez, and state legislators in May. The purpose of the meeting was to address the crucial matter of securing enhanced 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.”
While the specific implementation details are still being finalized, the expanded leave is expected to be in effect for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.