NYCDOE Educators Need An Agreement On Paid Family Medical Leave

NYCDOE Educators Need An Agreement On Paid Family Medical Leave

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Melody Anastasiou started this petition to New York City Public Schools and

There isn’t anyone who hasn’t been touched by illness or injury.  We have all had to care for someone, whether it be a parent with cancer, a child with the flu, or a grandparent with Alzheimer’s. What if you were the one who was sick?  On January 1, 2019, the New York State Paid Family Leave Act allows employees of private employers 10 weeks of Paid Family leave at 55% of their pay with job protection. This does not apply to myself and the 135,000 employees of the New York City Department of Education.  We fought for and won paid parental leave, but as a teacher, we only have the option of going off payroll to tend to a sick loved one under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); nowadays, who can afford that? Educators will serve our city’s youth better if given the peace of mind that they can attend to their sick loved ones and still pay their mortgage. 

I have been teaching for over ten years and for almost all of those years I have been living with fibromyalgia. It is estimated that approximately 10 million people live with fibromyalgia in the United States and that approximately 80 million people suffer from chronic pain.  I am very lucky that with time, treatment and a supportive team of medical professionals, family and friends I have been able to maintain a full time job as a teacher for the NYCDOE. Not everyone is this fortunate. People who suffer from fibromyalgia don’t really know how long they will be able to maintain their quality of life.

There is that old yiddish saying, “Man plans. God laughs.”  You can’t really plan for illness though. Now I find myself at the threshold of a new disease, rheumatoid arthritis.  About 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis. It, like fibromyalgia affects more women than men.  Feeling myself struggle to hold my own children is both saddening and disheartening. Now it is as if my own immune system has thrown down the gauntlet.  With a school system as large as ours, it’s unfortunate, but I know I am not the only one going through this difficult journey.

Having been active in another campaign for a new benefit with the United Federation of Teachers, Paid Parental Leave, I am very well aware that: 1, You can’t get something for nothing, 2, Negotiations take a great deal of time and 3, Negotiations involve multiple parties with very distinct agendas.  However, it is reported that an estimated 50 million people suffer from an autoimmune disorder, so I posit that now is the time to put those interested parties in a room together and get this ball rolling. I am asking the UFT, the union I’m proud to be a member of, and the New York City Department of Education; let’s put some of our best and brightest' minds together and open up a dialogue on Paid Family Medical Leave.  There may even be a way to achieve this benefit by re-purposing what we already have, so that the benefit is more cost effective, and yet still gets the job done.

There is no doubt that I have a strong personal incentive for trying to think up an economical and efficient solution to the issue of Paid Family Medical Leave.  With this benefit I could have the means to plan ahead for my own parents’ future care. But to go even further, my husband is also a teacher. Given my most recent health developments, it would be more than a comfort to know that my husband could start planning... just in case he has to one day take care of me.  Rheumatoid Arthritis like many autoimmune disorders can be a bit of a ticking clock. Since I know I’m not the only educator that hears the ticking of that clock...on your mark, get set, go.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!