To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Eva Moskowitz’s allegation in a recent interview that the UFT has not fought for paid maternity leave for our members in the district schools (Q&A, “Charter Crusader: Eva Moskowitz,” April 1).
This is not true—and Ms. Moskowitz knows it is not true. She also knows that, unfortunately, paid maternity leave cannot be implemented by the union unilaterally. It must be negotiated with the Department of Education, which has thus far refused to grant it.
Ms. Moskowitz ought to, therefore, take this matter up with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and her other friends at Tweed if she is so inclined—rather than launch false accusations against the union. We would welcome her support in fighting for the right of district teachers to have paid maternity leave.
While district teachers may not receive paid maternity leave, the UFT Welfare Fund does offer a generous extension of our benefits to expecting and new mothers during their time away from work; disability payments can begin anytime during the pregnancy. Additionally, the fund provides a child care benefit, which offers full Welfare Fund benefits for up to four months following the birth or adoption of a child.
Most important, our members’ benefits are guaranteed by a contract. They have job security. What are the benefits Ms. Moskowitz provides really worth if she can fire her employees at will, for any reason whatsoever?
It is not anti-charter to be pro-union. The pitting of district and charter teachers against each other by Ms. Moskowitz and others in charter management must stop.
Vice president for academic high schools, United Federation of Teachers
Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.