Governor Jerry Brown on October 15 vetoed Assembly Bill 568 that would have provided maternity leave for community college instructors and classified employees.
AB 568 was introduced by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher was passed by the Assembly 52-11 on Sep. 11.
Gonzalez-Fletcher said female teachers have to use vacation or sick days when taking leave for a pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage and recovery therefrom. AB 568 would require public and charter schools to provide paid leave of absence for women in these situations. Her bill would prevent employment discrimination and alleviate the state’s shortage of teachers, said the assemblywoman.
“Female teachers shouldn’t face extra employment burdens simply because they’re pregnant. It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory- and it will drive more and more women away from the profession at a time when we can least afford to do so,” she said.
Most California educators can take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a child, the care of a child up to age one, adoption or the start of foster care under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In order for teachers for to be paid during maternity leave they have to use their accumulated sick days and paid vacation. Once those days are used up they have a right to take differential pay leave- the difference in wages between an instructor’s salary and the cost of hiring a substitute.
AB 568 would have required school districts, charter schools and community colleges, including Southwestern College, to provide six weeks of fully paid maternity leave for their employees, before they use sick days and differential pay.
More than 1,000 letters were delivered to Brown by The California Federation of Teachers members in support of the bill.
SWC SCEA Adjunct Representative Geoff Johnson’s letter to Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to sign AB 568 and to stand with faculty who wish to start families.
“Women should not be forced to characterized their pregnancy as either a sickness, or as a disability,” wrote Johnson.
A coalition of school districts, charter schools, and community colleges opposing the maternity measure, sent the governor a letter in which they urged him to veto the bill.
“Added expense would compete with the costs of educational programs and student services within finite budgets,” the coalition said.
A bill analysis by The California Department of Finance said that if one percent of school and community college employees took six weeks of leave at full pay, it would cost the state’s schools $43 million to $163 million per year.
Brown, in his veto letter, encouraged districts to participate in State Disability program that provides short-term Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) wage replacement benefits to eligible workers who need time off work.
“I believe further decisions regarding leave policies for school employees are best resolved through the collective bargaining process at the school level,” he said.