Has SDEA Opened Our Contract Already?

As we’ve already shared on our SDEA Contract FAQ page, under California’s education labor law (the EERA) SDEA leadership can open the contract without member consent. There is no requirement for member pre-approval. In fact, the requirement for ratification stems from SDEA bylaws only, not EERA. However, SDEA leadership is less likely to do so if members unite and speak out against it. That is why it’s important that we as members make sure our elected union leadership knows what we want.

Unfortunately, the contract can actually be opened by SDEA’s leadership without their even meaning to. Here’s how…

There’s been some internal debate within our union recently over whether or not we should have “open lines of communication” with the District. Of course there’s nothing wrong with “open lines of communication” or “collaboration” between groups of people in most contexts. In fact, in most aspects of our lives, those are the sorts of relationships we strive for and encourage. But when that “open collaboration” is occurring between the top brass of an employer and a union, and when the topics of those discussions relate to mandatory subjects of bargaining (like contract concessions), the employer has a defensible argument that the union has entered into negotiations, and therefore opened the contract!

This was actually made clear to the SDEA Board at a recent presentation by CTA staff. One of CTA’s negotiations specialists told the Board that a simple statement of “no layoffs, no concessions, and here’s why” wouldn’t necessarily open the contract. However, he also said that if SDEA leadership was not very careful about what sorts of conversations they have with the District, they could inadvertently open our contract. For example, let’s say an SDEA officer were to tell a School Board member that we might be open to a sideletter about just furlough days. The District would have an argument that we’ve opened our entire wage article. They could then take us to impasse and impose their “last, best final offer” and there’s nothing we can do about it except slog it through the increasingly slow and defunded state labor board to contest it down the road. Now more than ever, when the District is putting more pressure on us than they ever have to reopen our contract, we need to be careful, not sloppy, in how our union leadership interacts with District leadership. And why are we holding an olive branch out to the District right now anyway when they’re being more aggressive toward us than ever?

But disturbingly, these sorts of conversations may have already begun between SDEA’s leadership and SDUSD’s leadership. At least one unpublicized meeting has already taken place between SDEA Interim Executive Director Tom Madden, SDEA President Bill Freeman, SDEA Vice President-Elect Lindsay Burningham and several other SDEA Board members, and the District’s Superintendent, School Board members, and other District officials. This was the first in a series of proposed meetings that the SDEA Board wants to hold to initiate those “open lines of communication” between SDEA and the District. What was discussed in that meeting? Will there be more such meetings? We (union members) don’t know the answers to those questions, or even that we should be asking them, and that’s a problem.

That secret meeting never should have happened and never should have been secret. We negotiate at bargaining tables when our contract is open, not in back rooms when our contract is closed.

11 thoughts on “Has SDEA Opened Our Contract Already?

  1. What a sore loser. SDEA members democratically voted for a new direction in dealings with SDUSD. Camille was NOT present in any of the certificated layoff meetings and has stop working on the SDEA Board even though she is still VP.
    Instead of creating division, Camille should be assisting SDEA. With her latest shenanigans, Camille is losing the respect of teachers who had admired her past efforts. This new “Club” she is trying to lead is a distraction in solving the problems within SDEA and SDUSD and has been causing division and spreading misinformation since she was voted out of office. Shame on you Camille!

    • Just to clarify, Camille did not start this page. This group was started by teachers who, after seeking leadership from SDEA, were told “we have been trained to organize”. So we did. And eventually we did start talking to Camille because she is currently still the VP, and is the only one who offered help. And quite frankly, it took a bit of convincing to get her involved. As far as not being present at the meetings, you should ask her if she was even invited. I’m not sure what “misinformation” you are referring to; please be specific and cite your sources. Additionally, if you find any factual inaccuracies on this site please let us know. We are fans of the truth.

      • I find it amusing that you repeatedly state what, “Most”, members want. Has anyone actually taken a poll of what they really want? My guess would be no considering most of the teachers I know and work with would gladly make concessions for the colleagues they have worked alongside with if it meant keeping their jobs. Shame on those who would rather pocket a few extra dollars rather than save our colleagues jobs and watch our public education system go down the toilet. Wake up and take a look around you, our federal and state budget is in an economic disaster did you really think it wouldn’t effect our public education system? And as for the layoffs you saved last year, what a joke, half the teachers rescinded didn’t have a school to teach in maybe we wouldn’t be in this predicament had we not have staffed beyond our means. Maybe I’ll start a, “Dinner Club”, for those of us us who truly support those teachers who have recieved pink slips. I would gladly continue with furlough days if it means my colleagues keep their jobs.

  2. Why is it taboo to break a contract with a private enterprise but not when it comes to public employees? SDEA members have repeatedly given concessions in good faith only to have the district backtrack on their side of the bargain when the bill comes due. First it was giving up our cost of living increase to save our benefits–then they cut the benefits anyway. Now it is the furlough days with the promise of repayment this fall that they are after and want more cuts and sacrifices. Where will it it end? The answer is that it won’t if we start opening up the contract without real and meaningful concessions by the district, not just the union. Nobody forced the district to agree to the contract they did–it appears now that they never intended to honor it from the beginning.

    Jesus and Parent and Staff member, neither of you offer any facts at all–just jealousy and sour grapes. This is exactly what those in power want to divide us. Perhaps you think it would be fair if all teachers had their salaries cut to say 25,000 a year then we could fully staff our schools. “My guess is” is not EVIDENCE! My guess from polling my colleagues is that we are sick of being vilified and painted as greedy for simply wanting the district to honor a fairly negotiated contract. Of course, we would like all our colleagues jobs preserved, but we also have to pay our bills in a very expensive place to live. We have families too and have dedicated our lives to the children in this city. My guess also is that most younger teachers understand the need for a strong union and that in the long run they will benefit from it as well. History has repeatedly shown this to be true. This is not the first hard time and it won’t be the last. The destruction of collective bargaining in this nation over the past 40 years has lead us to the mess we are in economically. Those unions started with little concessions and trusting management and never recovered–now they are gone for good along with their jobs in many cases.

    Kudos to this page for bringing to light the machinations going on behind the scenes between the district and union. Many of the things on this site were alarming news to most of us. Why doesn’t the district or union rebut them if they are wrong? Why are they afraid to have a transparent process so that we can all see exactly what is going on? My guess is they know it is unfair.

    The district has lied to its employees repeated and has shown they cannot be trusted. Now our leadership wants to make amends? Why? That’s like a battered wife apologizing to her husband for making him hit her.

    NO concessions until the district makes good on previous promises!

  3. I am one of the senior teachers who will be receiving a pay raise that was negotiated when we initially accepted the furlough days. When the contract was negotiated, , I and many of my colleagues did not believe that the district, state or nation would be back on that firm financial footing necessary to pay for that raise. But, the furlough days were upsetting, so we all felt a bit easier with the notion that we would somehow make up the difference on the backend.
    Now, I am going to get a raise while my younger colleagues are going to get laid off? That is not right. Everyday, I am inspired by the enthusiasm, talent and commitment of my “pink slipped partners”. I have been teaching at all level for the past 30 years. These teachers make me want to be a better teacher.
    We need to make concessions! Extend the furlough days for another three years.

    • Wait a minute…So now it is the union’s fault for believing the district would keep the promises they made–promises you are saying we were just deluding ourselves into believing?

      Did the district believe they would be on a solid enough footing to keep their promises or did they just tell us what they knew would get us off their backs for a while with no intention of honoring the contract? Either way, the responsibility is on the district–again, no one forced them to accept this contract. Frankly, this is like a parent (SDUSD) who promises their child (SDEA) they will buy them a car with no intention of doing so if they just mow the lawn without pay for a few years, then tell the kid they still aren’t getting the car and to stop whining or they will have to take their siblings toys away. Oh yeah–and keep mowing that lawn and be happy you can.

      Obviously everyone wants to keep as many teachers and staff as possible–the question is how this should be done. We are not getting a new “raise”–we are simply supposed to get what we gave up–lent, not donated–to the district to keep layoffs from happening. Now they want more and they use the threat of the layoffs again as a fear tactic. If we keep furlough days they should at least honor the deferred increases in the pay scale and pay people what they were promised. People made financial decisions based on those promises.

      Wake up! The logic behind saving our colleagues’ jobs is a fear tactic and diversion from the real issue–which is the district’s lack of credibility. It is not our responsibility to save jobs–it is the district’s and ultimately the public that we serve.

      Hey, if we all just work for free we can add unlimited staff–wouldn’t that be great? Then we could feel good about ourselves and not feel so guilty about taking our colleagues’ jobs!

  4. Have fun teaching those class sizes that could very well near 50 (high school) and use that raise to help you reduce stress for those kindergarten teachers trying to teach 30 five year old’s. I hope you enjoy that extra cash in your pocket so you can keep those, “Financial decisions”, you made. Don’t worry about those younger teachers who will be on unemployment. Nearly every other school district in San Diego has had teacher layoffs, why do you think SDUSD should be any different? Ignore the fact the the POA union (School Police Officers) made some concessions and now not one of them are losing their job. Go ahead and hide behind all the excuses while you watch your colleagues lose their job. I hope you sleep well at night, I have no doubt you will.

  5. I have a couple of thoughts you might want to keep in mind, Kate. The district has history of dealing in bad faith with it’s employees. Classified took deep cuts to save jobs and THEY LAID THEM OFF ANYWAY. They are still laying off classified employees. They get to work a hell of a lot harder for less money. Teachers and classified will still get laid off. Do you want to know what will happen to those 150k, 250k and more administrators who get demoted? They will collect the same salary for the next 18 months while teachers collect unemployment. There are no immediate savings demoting an administrator.

  6. You know, being the 800 pound gorilla might give you the leverage of insisting on benchmarks and triggers (reductions of management compensation, perks, waste, etc.) before any concession becomes effective with an added provision that ALL all lost wages will be paid and concessions eliminated PRIOR to restoring any management condition of employment. If they’re serious about saving schools, they need to give teachers the respect they deserve.

  7. Why have all have my posts regarding the ability to open the contract been erased? There was nothing improper about them. If it is true that there is an attempt to silence members by SDEA’s Board, you are acting no differently be removing my posts clearing showing you that there are options to discuss possible concessions without risking the possibility of being imposed on…

    I will post AGAIN and hope you do not remove my post:

    We all know there’s more money than the District is saying and I’m sure you can: 1) protect teachers from being laid off (for this year at least); and 2) help students maintain quality teachers in classrooms by meeting the District somewhere between the lines drawn in the sand, but it’s simply NOT true that you cannot have discussions to consider concessions without inviting the possibility of impasse. You are sure to avoid the possibility of impasse by agreeing to a side letter similar to the following:

    Memorandum of Understanding

    By way of this Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”), the San Diego Education Association (“Association”) and the San Diego Unified School District (“District”) hereby agree:

    1. This MOU shall be in full force and effect commencing May 29, 2012;

    2. This MOU shall expire and be of no further force or effect as of June 30, 2012;

    3. The District and the Association shall meet and negotiate over matters within the scope of representation, as defined by Government Code Section 3543.2;

    4. For the term of this Agreement, the District shall not “declare that an impasse has been reached between the parties in negotiations over matters within the scope of representation” (see Government Code Section 3548);

    5. For the term of this Agreement, the Association shall not “declare that an impasse has been reached between the parties in negotiations over matters within the scope of representation” (see Government Code Section 3548);

    6. Modification(s) to matters within the scope of representation, as defined by Government Code Section 3543.2, shall become effective upon the execution of tentative agreement(s);

    7. Tentative agreement(s) shall: 1) be reduced to writing; 2) specify the modification(s) to be made; and 3) signed, but not executed, by representatives of both the Association and the District;

    8. Tentative agreement(s) shall be executed upon approval by both the District Board of Education and Association membership;

    9. Effective immediately prior to the expiration of this Agreement, all proposal(s) shall become null and avoid; and

    10. Effective immediately prior to the expiration of this Agreement, all Tentative Agreement(s) shall become null and void.

    Agreed to May 29, 2012 by:

    Bill Freeman
    Association President

    Bill Kowba
    District Superintendent

  8. It’s interesting that the above article is full of conjecture and innuendo. Bill committed at the last Rep council he would not make any concessions without coming to the members first. When will a certain group give it a rest? All of this has been the same process and has not changed under all past SDEA leadership during bargaining so why is it now a problem? You might want to ask yourself that question and who is stirring the pot?? Have you all forgoten after saying no to furlough days, we have our first ever furlough days in SDEA history under Camille’s leadership? She actually started with a 3% cut in pay when it was pointed out to her that would inpact our retirement. Did she do what she needed to do under the circumstances? Let Bill and our board to their job that they were elected to do and let’s by into sour grapes. Especially when we have over 1500 teachers lives on the line again.

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