Massive Teacher Participation at Rep. Council Prompts Another SDEA Emergency Board Meeting Tonight

More than 200 people crowded last night’s standing room only Rep. Council, easily the largest turnout in five years. On Tuesday night, the SDEA Board had voted to authorize negotiations with the District to trade concessions for recalls if the ongoing phone survey results indicated that’s what members want, and planned to hold a Board meeting after last night’s Rep. Council to appoint the bargaining team. But after strong member push-back against the direction of SDEA leadership at Rep. Council, SDEA President Bill Freeman instead told the Board that they would meet tonight (Thursday) for a one-agenda item emergency Board meeting, and he would not say what the one agenda item would be when asked. This shows that our efforts to influence our SDEA leadership are working, and that’s a good thing — and we need to keep it up by showing up for the emergency SDEA Board meeting tonight as well (4:30 p.m. at 10393 San Diego Mission Road).

Here are the highlights from Rep. Council:
  • Sessions Association Representative and Breakfast Club member Megan Sussman presented our petition in support of the Five-Point Pledge to protect our jobs and our contract to SDEA President Bill Freeman. It has been signed by more than 600 members and counting, and received some of the loudest applause of the night.
  • SDEA Interim Executive Director Tom Madden presented the results of SDEA’s “scrub” of the District’s budget. He stated that the District’s projected budget hole for next year is now $118 million, down from the original $124 million. Of that $124 million, $41 million will happen only if there are mid-year cuts in January. That leaves a $77 million hole. Madden stated that the budget scrub revealed $71,400,000 in extra funds in the District’s budget that could be used to recall layoffs and maintain our salaries and benefits. That leaves less than a $6 million deficit that the District has to cover next year.
  • Remember, the District currently has $115 million worth of educators in layoff status for next year, PLUS another 1,000 classified workers. These layoffs are NOT necessary, they never have been, and the more we learn about the District’s budget, the more we know that this is true. It is unreasonable for the District to sit on $71,400,000 of one-time “rainy day” funds when it is pouring cats and dogs on our schools right now. The Breakfast Club’s Three-Step Plan to restore jobs and protect our contract is even more viable than we thought, and for SDEA leadership to even consider opening our contract over a $5.6 million District deficit just doesn’t make sense.
  • NEA staffer Mayrose Wegeman and Bill Freeman discussed the ongoing phone survey. The sense of frustration in the room was palpable. Members shared the same experiences we’ve all heard — I was hung up on, I couldn’t understand the surveyor, the questions didn’t make sense, I didn’t hear a “no concessions” option… one member even said that the surveyor polled her 87-year-old mother. Wegeman said that the errors were being fixed. As of last night, roughly 2,000 members had been surveyed, so it is being extended through Friday in an attempt to reach “as many members as possible” (we had previously been told 70%).
  • Here is what we learned about the survey questions themselves: There are three questions in total. One of the questions does NOT include an option to choose “no concessions” – you are forced to choose a type of concession. If you don’t choose any, your vote is NOT counted as “keep the contract closed” or “no concessions.” It is counted as undecided. Bill Freeman stated this clearly.
  • The SDEA Board was supposed to approve the survey questions before the survey began, but they did not do so until after the survey had already begun.
  • SDEA Secretary Lindsay Burningham stated that the questions may have some flaws. She stated that the Board may not use the results of the question that did not offer “don’t open the contract” as an option in their decision-making process.
  • SDEA Board member Scott Mullin said that if the phone survey results in “conversations” with the District and there is an “agreement” as result of those conversations, then there will be a “ratification vote.” It seems clear that SDEA leadership intends to use the results of this phone survey to authorize opening our contract and bargaining concessions.
  • There was a motion made to stop the survey and replace it with a new method to get members’ input. The motion failed with a 46 to 45 vote. Unfortunately the vote took place several hours into the meeting after many members had to leave. The survey will continue in its current form through Friday.
  • Bill Freeman stated that furlough days or delaying the raises can be bargained without opening our contract if the final agreement is in the form of an “MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)” or “side letter.” That is simply untrue, which he seemed to acknowledge in his very next sentence. He said it was “not 100%” that we could do so, but that “the sky isn’t 100%.” We don’t know what that means, but we do know that if we open any section of our contract, including the wages article where the furlough days and raises are contained, then we have absolutely exposed ourselves to the risk of the District taking us to impasse and imposing on us. Freeman did say that the benefits article and other articles would not be opened, indicating that he intends to limit his opening of our contract to the wages article.
  • Another point about the raises: It is illegal to defer the raises into another year in an MOU or side letter, because we already have a three-year contract, and the raises can’t be pushed outside the term of that contract. That means we can’t bargain deferring the raises without bargaining our next contract. All we can do right now is agree to give them up completely.
  • How do we know this? State labor law (the Educational Employment Relations Act) restricts the term of an agreement to three years in the definitions; no agreement can extend beyond three years. It also makes clear that any discussions regarding matters within the scope of bargaining that take place during the term of the agreement are indeed opening the contract. There is no distinction made between a Collective Bargaining Agreement (i.e. the contract), an MOU, or a side letter (these are all written documents under the definition).
  • Citation — EERA 5340.1.(h): “Meeting and negotiating” means meeting, conferring, negotiating, and discussing by the exclusive representative and the public school employer in a good faith effort to reach agreement on matters within the scope of representation and the execution, if requested by either party, of a written document incorporating any agreements reached, which document shall, when accepted by the exclusive representative and the public school employer, become binding upon both parties and, notwithstanding Section 3543.7, is not subject to subdivision 2 of Section 1667 of the Civil Code. The agreement may be for a period of not to exceed three years.
The good news is that Bill Freeman and the SDEA Board have already slowed down their plan to open our contract as a direct result of SDEA member participation last night. So we need to keep it up! We’ll see you tonight at 4:30!

4 thoughts on “Massive Teacher Participation at Rep. Council Prompts Another SDEA Emergency Board Meeting Tonight

  1. Bill Freeman needs to be recalled as leader of this Union. How can we make that happen, does anyone else feel the same?

  2. I don’t feel that the leadership, Bill Freeman, is interested in what all members have to say. I am even more disturbed by reports of Board members being physically abusive to members who have opposing viewpoints, they don’t represent me behaving like that. I would like to see Bill Freeman recalled as the leader of the Union and Mullins and Gonzales fired for being bullies to women. Shame on them. How does that process work?

  3. Pingback: The SDEA Board Voted Tonight to Open Our Contract « The Breakfast Club Action Group

  4. Pingback: NEW: Association for Union Democracy Publishes The Breakfast Club’s Story! « The Breakfast Club Action Group

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