SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It passed the legislature with a near-unanimous vote, but Governor Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have given teachers six weeks paid leave after giving birth.
This is surprising since maternity leave has been a marquee issue for the Newsom administration. But unlike new mothers who work for private companies, teachers are not entitled to the maternity leave that the governor campaigned on because teachers are public employees and they belong to a union.
This was the second time this bill passed the legislature with near-unanimous approval, and the second time it was vetoed.
Governor Brown vetoed the same bill last year saying it was best resolved through collective bargaining. Teachers argue so few of them get pregnant every year, that the rest of the union isn’t willing to bargain away other necessities in exchange for maternity leave.
To be clear, this bill would have given teachers fully paid leave, but just during that first six-week disability period after giving birth.
We raised the issue with the governor in May, asking the governor why the state would not just allow individuals to opt-in without the rest of their union.
“Let’s look at the cost. Let’s look at where the unions are…There are a lot of work rules, a lot of considerations, a lot of tradeoffs. I don’t want to sound like Jerry Brown saying a little of this a little of that,” Newsom said.
Now months later, in his official veto message sounds a lot like Governor Brown’s stating, “While paid family leave is a noble goal and a priority for my administration…it should be considered as part of the annual budget process and as part of local collective bargaining.”
The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales Responded on Twitter Monday saying:
“AB 500 wasn’t about paid family leave as the veto message mistakenly states. It seeks to address the medical condition of pregnancy and maternity leave.”
Adding, “Teachers & school employees, overwhelmingly women, need to be protected like private sector workers with a right to some maternity leave.”
Teachers & school employees, overwhelmingly women, need to be protected like private sector workers with a right to some maternity leave. We aren’t done fighting for this. We must find the resources to treat those who care for our kids with dignity, respect and fairness. 2/2
— Lorena (@LorenaSGonzalez) October 14, 2019
The governor did appear to leave the door open for movement on this issue, indicating it may be addressed in an upcoming budget. The governor’s veto message also indicated the issues would be considered by his Paid Family Leave Task Force.
CBS13 has reached out to the governor’s office several times over several months asking for details on whether the task force is looking into paid leave for workers like teachers and other public workers who do not currently have access to it, but we have not yet received a response.