Chicago police union pushes for same parental leave as CPS employees

The union representing Chicago police officers is demanding that law enforcement personnel be granted the same amount of parental leave as employees of Chicago Public Schools.

Last week, Mayor Brandon Johnson unilaterally granted all CPS workers a 12-week parental leave without engaging in negotiations.

This decision follows months of controversy surrounding former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who allegedly made promises of extended time off for parents but failed to fulfill them.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara now asserts that police officers should receive equal treatment in terms of parental leave.

During a City Hall news conference, Johnson called the new policy a "very bold step" and a "huge win for CPS employees." It will allow new parents to deliver for their students, but also "show up for their own families during a critical time in their lives."

No longer will they need to "choose between a paycheck and starting a family," the mayor said.

To match the city policy, the CPS expansion to 12 weeks of paid leave will apply to those "growing their family by birth, adoption or foster care, as well as those acting as a surrogate."

To qualify for full pay for 12 weeks of leave, CPS employees must work for the school system for at least one year before the parental leave begins and have worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months. The federal Family Medical Leave Act has similar eligibility requirements.

Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates was a featured speaker at last week's City Hall news conference. In fact, the mayor’s office took pains to put out a revised public schedule that included her name.

That favored-nation status was a marked contrast from the cold shoulder Davis Gates got over the last four years, including when she was stopped at a City Hall elevator by Mayor Lightfoot’s security team and barred from participating in the final round of negotiations that ended the 11-day teachers strike.

"To say that I’m almost speechless by this moment is an understatement," Davis Gates said.

Davis Gates recalled the "hardship" she was forced to undergo "to be a mom." The mother of three said she had to beg her parents for help just to pay her bills.

"This means a lot to me personally and to our union. This policy makes sense. It should never be at the negotiating table. It should be the norm for every woman" in the workplace,, she said. "We talk about recruiting and retaining quality educators—this is a step in the right direction."

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.