Last year, SDEA’s position throughout the spring was “No Layoffs.” We fought back nearly every single one of 1,350 layoff and got laid off members’ healthcare extended through September. We did this by organizing our members, parents, and the broader community through a series of site rallies, and by putting immense direct pressure on the School Board members to do the right thing… so they did.
Last year, SDEA’s position was not “No Layoffs and No Concessions.” That’s because last year, everyone knew there was no chance SDEA would consider concessions. It didn’t need to be said. This year, that’s not true… quite the opposite, unfortunately. Every interview with SDEA leadership for the past two and half months is signaling to the District and the world that our union is making concessions. It’s just a question of when and how.
It does not need to be this way! What is the difference between last year and this year? Organizing!
Two and a half weeks ago, SDEA Vice President Camille Zombro shared the above analysis with the SDEA Board, hoping to jump-start the sort of work we did all last spring to protect members’ jobs. It’s now mid-May and our union is still in a directionless tailspin. We have no plan to get our 1,700 laid off members back, we have no plan to protect our wages and benefits, because we have no organizing plan. Bill Freeman told us at the Day of the Teacher that he has a “secret plan.” This is not how a union energizes its members and moves them to action.
If we are going to get our members’ jobs back, we can’t wait around anymore for SDEA leadership to do it for us. We need to do it ourselves.
Here are five things that SDEA members can do RIGHT NOW to get our jobs back:
- Have you called all five School Board members? Is half an hour of your life worth your wages and benefits? Download this flyer with phone numbers and talking points and pick up the phone TODAY.
- Have you talked to your friends and your family about the District’s budget cuts? You can either talk to them about it now, or complain about it to them later. Call five people you know, email them the flyer, and ask them to call Board members too.
- Have you talked to parents at your school about what will happen to their children’s class size next year? Print out the flyers, grab at least two colleagues, and start pounding the pavement! The Board might not always listen to us, but when parents get involved, they sure do.
- Have you written a letter to the editor? If the Union-Tribune won’t publish your letter, there’s probably a smaller local publication that will. (Think “San Diego Uptown News” or “The Reader”.) Include action steps for citizens in your letter.
- Have you told our union leadership what you think? The SDEA Board are the ones who will make the call whether or not to open our contract, and they are thes responsible for making sure our union is organizing to bring back jobs. Email the SDEA Board and make sure your voice is heard.
The common thread here is small member actions. It might not feel big when you’re doing it, but the key to our union’s strength is strength in numbers. If just 1,000 of our 8,000 members get five people each to call a School Board member, that Board member will get 5,000 phone calls! Together we are stronger!