Member Blog Post: June 1 SDEA Board Meeting Report

Another surprising turn of events…

At a union school site meeting on Friday, June 1, many members at this site had many, many questions regarding the survey and the direction of our union.  At this meeting, Interim Executive Director Tom Madden was in attendance and made a few surprising admissions.  It was stated by Madden that SDEA President Bill Freeman had made a “mistake,” and that the questions on the survey were not approved by the board prior to the survey going out. As one union member said, “That’s not a little mistake, that’s a HUGE mistake that impacts 8,000 people!”  It was also stated that the questions had to do with both the current contract and the next.  Then Madden stated that there was to be an emergency SDEA Board Meeting that day to discuss the survey questions.

Even though there was short notice of the SDEA Board Meeting, about 10 SDEA members were in attendance to speak out during member issues at the beginning of the meeting.  Many members had concerns about the survey:  What kind of questions will be asked? How were the questions framed? Who, specifically, developed them?  Why is it a phone survey and not mail so we have time to think about the questions? Why were the questions not approved by the SDEA Board prior to going out (even though at the May 25 SDEA Board meeting, it was made clear that the Board was supposed to approve the survey questions before it went to the members)?  It was also evident that many members present from different sites believe in NO concessions and NO layoffs.

I also spoke out and reminded the Board that at the May 25 Board meeting, it was requested that all SDEA Board Meetings be publicly announced 24 hours in advance with an agenda so that members may come and speak to the issues.  Unfortunately, such notification has yet to happen.

I was also curious as to why the member survey questions were to be discussed in Executive Session.  I asked Bill whether or not the questions were related to bargaining, and he said they were not.  Then I asked Bill whether or not the questions were related to negotiations, and he stated no.  So, I am curious why the questions were discussed in Executive Session, since the questions were not the about the four topics that are allowed by the SDEA Bylaws:

1) Hiring, firing and/or evaluation of Association staff;

2) Personnel cases or grievances involving members and the District;

3) Strategy and tactics related to bargaining; and

4) litigation.”

Bill stated that they were moving to Executive Session so that the questions would be kept confidential. Again, this is not allowed by the SDEA Bylaws given Bill’s characterization of  the survey as not being about bargaining.

The Board moved into Executive Session for over an hour, while 5 members waited for the end round table of the Board meeting.  When we were allowed to return, only one Board member thanked us for waiting. The rest had nothing to say — much to the disappointment of the members who waited.

After the meeting was adjourned, I went to speak with Bill regarding a personal issue (he had only one other person next to him).  I asked Bill for resolution about the verbal attack I experienced before rep council on May 16 since there was no resolution on the matter.  Bill said he wanted to discuss things further, but I stated that I had already said everything in an email that I sent him and I wanted resolution on the matter since I do not feel safe at SDEA or SDEA events given what occurred.  Bill stated that he spoke with the men who attacked us.  This was the first time I heard of this, and do not know what was told to them or what came of this. I stated that the man who verbally attacked me has a pattern of harassing women and that is NOT okay.  Bill said that he is a member and cannot do anything about it.  He said people disagree all the time at Rep. Council and yell.  I tried to explain the difference — yes, people at Rep. Council get passionate (with coherent words) but the words used by these men were meant to humiliate, embarrass, and harass.  That is NOT okay, and I have never seen anything like it in the years I have been attending Rep. Council.

By this time, other SDEA Board members began to circle around me.  One Board member said it was because we were passing out fliers on the outside walk way of SDEA property.  (By the way, the fliers were talking points about School Board Members — I am fighting to get my job back!).  From my understanding, fliers may be passed out outside of the building, not inside.  And, since when did passing out fliers warrant an attack?  This behavior is NOT okay.

I asked Bill for resolution again.

Another Board member asked me to apologized for the content of the Breakfast Club Blog.  I stated that if there was anything untrue, please let us know and we will correct it.  Then this Board member stated that it was slanderous with the way things have been portrayed on our site.  Again, I stated that if anything that was untrue, let us know and we will correct it.

This was not going well.

I was being asked to apologize? I was the one who verbally attacked and have yet to receive an apology.  This is NOT okay.

I asked Bill for resolution again and stated again that I feel unsafe at SDEA.

Then, another Board member told me to stop emailing her because she did not want to hear it.  (I have sent a total of two emails regarding the May 16 attack).  And aren’t all Board members supposed to listen to the members and their concerns? This is NOT okay.

I asked Bill one last time for resolution. By this time, I had at least 6 Board members around me.  And I am still left with no resolution.

-Michelle Sanchez

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