Question: What is happening with Paid Family Medical Leave from the Union’s perspective?
Answer: To date, and over the course of three bargaining meetings concerning PFML, the APA, along with sister-unions MCCC and MSCA have only agreed about process of notifying employees of the impending deduction from their bi-weekly pay.
No Massachusetts state-employee bargaining unit has agreed to or signed off on the payment split (state vs. employee on either Medical Leave <60/40> or Family Leave <100% employee>). The Coalition of BHE unions has offered that the Employer (state of Massachusetts) pay 100% of the cost of this “insurance”. We have additionally offered that the State could then collect the benefit, should an employee apply.
The reason for the reticence to agree upon terms is that we, as state employees in Higher ED, actually enjoy a better benefit than what is being offered – through our Sick Leave accruals and the potential to use Sick Leave Banks. We seek to be exempted from this program.
The difficulty comes when not all “employees” of a given Employer (in this case, the State of Massachusetts) are offered the same benefit. If everyone is NOT entitled to the same benefit, then the Employer and its workforce cannot be granted an exception. We’re diligently arguing about this point. Within Higher Ed, our part time employees do not have the same benefit, nor do other agencies of the state. If necessary, this argument will continue into the individual contract bargaining sessions.
Although we have not signed off on the terms of the payroll deduction, because this new program is LAW, the deductions began on the October 4 pay week. And yes… we know and have filed against the state… for deducting this tax from a pay period that included September.