Jeff Sacha, a full time sociology professor, and Sara Smith, history professor, at American River College, want to start their own families. However, the maternal/paternal leave for faculty in the Los Rios Community College District is a single day. In comparison, the California Teachers Association offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave if teachers have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months leading up to it.
“We’ve come to realize that the policy we have in place right now that would allow us to start our families easily is grossly insufficient,” Sacha said, “It doesn’t support young faculty, adjunct or part time faculty and it doesn’t support students that well either because being sick or exhausted hurts instruction.”
For parental leave at ARC, teachers get one day of fully paid leave—as in the teacher gets a single day off for childbirth, if their partner gives birth, adopts, or fosters a new child. For more time, accrued sick leave (10 days a year for full time faculty) can be used, and in addition faculty get paid half pay for up to 12 weeks.
This problem is not just at ARC, but at the other Los Rios campuses as well.
“We need to make sure we can reach out to other campuses faculty, because this petition is only at ARC for now, and we have four campuses,” Sacha said.
Full-time faculty can use Type C leave, which allows “faculty who teach overloads without additional compensation ..[to] accrue the equivalent formula hours (EFHs) up to a maximum of 30 equivalent formula hours, which may be applied towards a Type C, Professional Development Leave,” as defined by the Type- C leave form.
The flyer distributed by the Los Rios Campaign for Family Leave faction summarizes the union contract with the Los Rios District. The maternal/paternal leave is a single day. More days are added using the accrued sick leave, but the union contract for family leave has a set amount of days.
Three-to-five days is all the time that teachers get to care for an ill family member or grieve the loss of one. If they use their accrued sick leave that number increases to nine days to mourn the loss of a parent, a sibling or a child, or to take care of an ill/disabled family member.
“Ideally what we want is the right for fully paid leave without using accumulated sick leave, guaranteed right to fully paid leave is more humane and fairer than the current policy we have now,” Smith said.
Los Rios Campaign for Family Leave is asking for a full semester of fully paid leave for maternity and family leave. There is currently a petition for faculty, administrators and teachers to change the union contract. There are hardcopy petitions going around the campus, as well as a version online.
“We need more people involved, we have been branching out to faculty, which is a huge feat,” Smith said.
After the petitions are signed, the Los Rios Campaign for Parental Leave will have more scheduled meetings leading up to a negotiation of a revision of contract, according to Smith and Sacha.