For argument sake, let’s say we did find ourselves in a place where SDEA needs to negotiate mid-term during the final year of our contract. (Remember, if this were to occur, it should NOT happen before the Governor’s final budget is approved, the ballot measure to increase school funding is voted on by the electorate of California, and we actually know what SDUSD funding looks like.)
What would SDEA negotiations look like if Bill Freeman and CTA manager (and SDEA interim Executive Director) Tom Madden actually knew what they were doing when opening the contract?
- SDEA should be organizing and building power to use at the bargaining table. It is clear from our experiences of the last five years that when we organize and build membership power, we win. Did you happen to notice that organizing and communication with our membership by SDEA and Bill Freeman pretty much evaporated after Freeman began his internal purge in March and Tom Madden began advising the SDEA Board and staff? The District knows SDEA members will not be bringing their influence to bear on negotiating the best possible agreement since Bill Freeman, Tom Madden, the SDEA Board, and staff have been spending the last few months trying to scare members into believing that concessions are necessary and inevitable.
- SDEA should not be telegraphing our bargaining position to the District. This is Bargaining 101 and Tom Madden at the very least should know this. Would you immediately tell a car salesman your bottom line when walking into a dealership? Of course not — but SDEA and Bill Freeman have already made clear to the District what they are willing to give up in our contract.
- Bill Freeman and SDEA staff should be talking to members and not the Superintendent and School Board. For months now, Freeman has been taking his marching orders from the District and has been towing their line. Why this rush to complete negotiations before the Governor’s budget is passed? Because the District rightly fears that it will include more money for education and it would therefore reduce the ability of the District to extract concessions from us. Do you feel that SDEA has ignored your input?
- SDEA should be talking about new sources of revenue that have been conveniently ignored by the District (and SDEA) such as the lifting of restrictions on categorical funds and a new school funding formula proposed by Governor Brown, each of which could bring millions into our District and make layoffs AND concessions unnecessary. We’ll wager that you haven’t heard anything about this from SDEA because it could benefit members, not the District.
- SDEA should demand (and receive) strict preconditions BEFORE agreeing to negotiate: These should include:
- All monies due SDEA members as a result of contingencies in our contract being triggered are paid out BEFORE we start bargaining. Did you know that the changes to VEBA and the District receiving more revenue than expected in the past two years SHOULD have resulted in millions of dollars being returned to us? Why isn’t Bill Freeman demanding that these portions of our contract be enforced BEFORE we even agree to negotiate?
- Our schools are in desperate need of nurses and counselors and SDEA has filed for arbitration in response to the District’s blatant violation of nurse and counselor staffing ratios in our contract. SDEA should demand that nurse and counselor ratios be adhered to and this arbitration settled BEFORE we start bargaining.
- If we are going to make concessions like Freeman intends, shouldn’t we get something in return for these concessions? How about more personal days? Greater flexibility in using prep time? Less non-classroom supervision? The list could be endless. SDEA should have made clear BEFORE we start bargaining that any concessions by SDEA members will be matched by significant improvements to our working conditions (which are non-monetary).
- What happened to SDUSD administrators sharing the pain? If economic conditions are as dire as Bill Kowba claims, then we should set a pre-condition BEFORE we start bargaining that Kowba and ALL other District administrators and managers agree to be paid off the SDEA salary schedule for the next two years.
We could go on and on here but you get the picture.
Unfortunately, Bill Freeman and the SDEA Board have decided to listen to the District instead of us, and are making sure that negotiations benefit the School Board and Bill Kowba and not us. We should be asking what Bill Freeman’s real agenda has been these past few months.