Last night SDEA members received an update on the ongoing concessions bargaining meetings between our union and the District. Here’s our analysis.
What Has Happened?
According to the update, “This [SDEA’s first] proposal focused on the scheduled raises, furlough days, a retirement incentive and locking up the contract for an additional two years while ensuring that all educators are recalled.” There are several things wrong with this picture. The SDEA bargaining team appears to have proposed the SDEA Board’s bottom line (extending the furlough days AND pushing back or giving up the promised pay restorations) as their starting offer. If you have $10,000 to spend on a car and that’s your first line to the car salesman, one of two things happens: either you end up stuck with the used Pinto with vinyl seats, or you get talked into spending $15,000 after all. What happened to CTA Manager/Interim SDEA Executive Director Tom Madden’s 30+ years of experience bargaining contracts?
And why did Madden and the SDEA bargaining team miss the golden opportunity to insist on the extension of laid off members’ healthcare benefits as a pre-condition to even sitting down at the concessions bargaining table with the District? Also, recalling the 500 educators that the District’s Chief Financial Officer testified were unnecessary should have been a second pre-condition to any concessions negotiations. According to the bargaining update, neither were pre-conditions.
Surprise SDEA Bargaining Proposals
Even more disturbing, according the to update, the SDEA bargaining team put several things on the table that were never discussed with members at all before discussing them with the District: a retirement incentive and a contract that extends through 2015. When were members who are close to retirement surveyed to find out what they might want or need in such an incentive? Will the District match the seven percent increase on the “single highest year” retirement calculation that those members would have received just by keeping our contract closed? And why weren’t members surveyed about what we’d like our contract to look like for another two years before SDEA started to bargain that next contract? Weren’t we promised bargaining input sessions like last time before starting to bargain our next contract this coming fall? What about all of the no-cost contract improvements members might have wanted to include? And remember, contracts can only be three years long, which is how long our current contract is. So how in the world is our entire contract not “on the table” if the SDEA bargaining team has proposed a contract that goes for two more years?
Again, this is about transparency. It’s possible that members would have liked to see a retirement incentive or early bargaining for our next contract, but shouldn’t we have had some opportunity to ask questions and give input before these incredibly important decisions were made for us? This isn’t how things used to work in our union.
Is There Anything We Can Do?
YES. The reason that SDEA had been so wildly successful at the bargaining table for so many years is that we didn’t just have a good bargaining strategy (although we had that too), but we had a good organizing plan. This time around, SDEA leadership has been completely silent on an organizing plan to support the concessions bargaining team. They haven’t even sent out an email encouraging members to attend this Tuesday’s School Board meeting. So let’s keep organizing ourselves!
- Attend the School Board meeting this Tuesday, June 19 at the Ed. Center, and even better, sign up to speak in public comment. DEMAND that the Board extend our laid off members’ benefits and recall AT LEAST the 500 layoffs they themselves admitted were never necessary.
- Contact the SDEA Board and the SDEA bargaining team (look up their emails on sandi.net) and let them know what you expect them to fight for at the bargaining table.
- If you haven’t already, start collecting personal email addresses from your colleagues who feel the same way that you do and get them signed up for the Breakfast Club list. If and when a tentative concessions agreement is reached, we want to be able to communicate with each other about our action plan. We’ve collected more than 1,000 emails in just a few weeks. We’re picking up steam, so let’s keep going!
It’s going to be an interesting summer as we work together to reclaim our union’s decision-making process, hold the District accountable for their unnecessary layoffs, and protect our contract. But if we continue to stick together, we absolutely can.