February 2021 Advocate: Family leave renewed

Contract Action Team

Family leave renewed in Spring MOU after faculty parents speak out at Board meetings

By Jessica Silver-Sharp with Katharine Harer

You’ve probably heard the news! Through the hard work of our negotiating team and a number of union members and activists in particular, AFT1493 settled a Spring 2021 MOU that renews the leave opportunities previously guaranteed by the FFCRA: that is, full-time and part-time faculty caring for children whose schools are closed may take up to 12 weeks of paid leave or have their load reduced without sacrificing their income, even if they already took a leave in the past year

However, this “win” for faculty would not have happened if not for…

  • Cañada College English instructor Salumeh Eslamieh who recognized that faculty who had already taken a leave would be ineligible to take another leave this Spring, according to the provisions in place. (Note: As of this writing, the Biden administration has not renewed FFCRA).
  • A group of faculty members with children, who worked with our Contract Action Team (CAT) activists to organize and speak out to the Board of Trustees on December 14 sharing heartfelt testimonies about the challenges of parenting during COVID. (Listen to their testimonies here.)  Plus a second follow-up presentation from faculty parents to the Board on December 21.
  • The response of our Board, who listened carefully to faculty and quickly sent a strong message to District negotiators, which ensured faculty parents’ needs were met.
  • AFT’s negotiators being available for last minute talks during their break to bring faculty’s updated concerns to fruition.
  • A willingness for collaboration amongst faculty, AFT, the Board of Trustees, Human Resources and our negotiating teams.


Faculty parents (with their kids) who spoke out for renewed family leave include Salumeh Eslamieh (top left), Michael Hoffman (top right), Liza Erpelo (bottom left) and Jessica Silver-Sharp (bottom right)


Since our campuses first closed, AFT members on the Contract Action Team (CAT) team have kept family leave front and center: working with Human Resources to clarify and improve communications about leave provisions with members, sharing information and receiving member feedback with AFT Chapter Chairs, presenting faculty’s leave priorities to AFT’s negotiators, coaching and encouraging individual faculty members about leave terms and forms, and organizing and encouraging AFT members to speak directly to our Board about the impossibility of maintaining high parenting standards while devoting ourselves full time to our students.

We gratefully acknowledge our members for taking the initiative to speak out: Su An (CSM), Salumeh Eslamieh (Cañada), Michael Hoffman (Cañada), who also read a statement by Valeria Estrada (Cañada), Suzanne Poma (Skyline), Nadya Sigona (Cañada), Lezlee Ware (Cañada), Monica Malamud (Cañada) (and ourselves, Jessica Silver-Sharp (Skyline/Cañada) and Katharine Harer (Skyline).  Others prepared to speak, time permitting, included Jesse Raskin (Skyline). Again, those recordings are can be heard here.

Lastly, it’s not too late for you to take a full or partial leave during Spring 2021. Contact Ingrid Melgoza (Melgozai@smccd.edu) at District HR as soon as possible. Ms. Melgoza has worked diligently these past months to help faculty secure the best leave options available. It’s not your responsibility to arrange a leave with your Dean. Go directly to Ms. Melgoza at the District. Problems, concerns? Your AFT Chapter Chairs are ready to help.