CLEVELAND (WJW) – Cleveland City Council introduced legislation Monday that would give city employees paid parental leave.
“I think any parent watching will agree it’s a difficult balance to strike sometimes,” said Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife.
Slife, a father of two, spearheaded the new proposed policy. If approved, would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents in birthing, adoption and guardianship.
“75% of the money we spend will go to the salaries and benefits of the people who deliver our services. The police officers who protect our streets. The garbage workers who clean our streets. Just like any other workforce, we are competing for them to come here versus work somewhere else,” said Slife.
However, the benefit will only be available to full-time, non-union workers. Slife said the city intends to expand the offering to union workers through future collective bargaining.
“Collective bargaining agreements are negotiated between the administration and the unions. Council is not a part of those agreements. By federal law, we are unable to bestow an agreement that hasn’t already been collectively bargained,” said Slife.
“90% of this city is under unions,” said Feff Follmer, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.
Follmer said the union, which represents Cleveland’s 1,400 police officers, was not consulted.
“It’s kind of funny that this is coming up now, right after we just finished negotiations,” said Follmer.
City government remains one of Cleveland’s largest employers with over 7,000 employees. According to the mayor’s office, almost 5,500 of them are in a union.
Slithe said the new benefit will cost the city around $1.2 million a year.
“It’s not a value statement of some versus others. It’s applicable to non-union from day one with the understanding that bargaining units would want to reopen their agreements with the administration,” said Slithe.
“Maybe if you are thinking of having a family, it’s a positive. But to get to negotiations and start talking about this, it needs to happen now and not a year from now,” said Follmer.