Talks Like Deal Has Already Been Cut
Last night the School Board voted to issue 1534 educator layoffs, on top of the 1000 classified layoffs they’ve already issued, which will have the effect of turning our schools into human sardine factories. And Board President John Lee Evans has suggested that a side deal to “fix” it is possible.
First, let’s do the math together (since Board member and math teacher Kevin Beiser apparently still can’t):
- $122 million = District’s worst case budget hole
- $115 million = amount 1534 teacher layoffs alone will save
- Tens of millions = amount 1000 classified layoffs will also save
- $91 million = total concessions the District asked for in exchange for no layoffs
- $33 million = other cuts the District told the County they already have planned
- $20 million = amount the District will save in attrition (conservative estimate)
We’re no Kevin Beiser, but if they only asked for $91 million from us in the first place, and they’ll get at least $20 million through attrition, then they could issue “only” about 900 teacher layoffs and still fill their entire worst case budget hole. That’s without the savings from classified layoffs (which are currently crippling our schools) and without taking a dime out of their reserves, which are over-padded by tens of millions according to County records. And remember, the worst case has never happened in the past.
That means a minimum of 600 people are about to get layoffs that everyone knows are unnecessary even in the worst case scenario, just to pressure us to open up our contract and give away the farm.
YOU CAN DO BETTER Richard Barrera, Kevin Beiser, John Lee Evans, and Shelia Jackson!
But just as worrisome is the way that John Lee Evans talked about what we can give up to fix their problem, and how. Evans talked about how the union could work a “side deal” without opening the contract. First of all, that’s not true. And secondly, that’s eerily similar to language used at last month’s SDEA Board retreat when CTA reviewed the District’s budget with the Board.
According to a CTA negotiations specialist at the SDEA Board retreat, the very act of even discussing a possible side letter about furlough days with the District is in and of itself negotiating. It doesn’t matter what the euphemism is – “side letter” or “modification” or “narrow scope of negotiations” – you cannot do it without opening our wage article because that’s where the furlough days are (Article 7). Once we engage in conversations with the District about changing current sections of the contract – which absolutely includes extending the furlough days and taking the associated pay decrease – we have opened the contract, which means the District can impose their “last best offer” on us, and we couldn’t even strike in protest because we have a no-strike clause during the term of the contract (Article 20).
There is simply no way to renegotiate furlough, raise deferrals, or healthcare modifications for next year without opening our contract. Any negotiations = open contract. Period.
John Lee Evans also said that mid-June is the deadline to finalize that deal in order to avoid layoffs. That’s just ridiculous. The state budget doesn’t even come out until June 30. The School Board can recall layoffs any time they want, just like they have every year since 2008. The only reason the District wants to cut a deal now is to have it in place before the budget comes out, in case it brings them better news and weakens their bargaining position.
Where is SDEA President Bill Freeman in all of this? He wasn’t at the Board meeting last night. He was in Sacramento with CTA, lobbying state legislators instead. Lobbying state politicians is fine, but not instead of putting pressure on our local politicians on the night they are voting to destroy thousands of lives. We need our union leadership here fighting tooth and nail against the layoffs. SDEA has yet to say a word about this today and we need a straight answer on this question – is the SDEA leadership considering giving up furlough days or in any other way opening our contract this summer? Because John Lee Evans sure seems to think we are.
We’ve done the math; now let’s look at the history. Last year, the School Board finalized only 800 of their original 1350 layoffs – a little more than half. That’s because last year we’d had 39 rallies with 7000-plus participants by the time they voted. This year, they finalized 1534 out of 1655 – more than 90 percent. That’s because our union’s organizing efforts have been lackluster, and our union president has been telling the District “we won’t let them go off a cliff” which is just another way of saying we’ll concede when it’s time. That’s why the Board is issuing hundreds of layoffs they know they don’t need. They know if they keep the pressure on, we’ll open our contract, call it a “side-deal” to make it more politically palatable, and they’ll be able to have a contract grab-fest.
It does not need to be this way! What can we do about it?