This Laid Off Teacher is Asking You to Vote NO

I am a pink slipped teacher (and have been pink slipped nearly every year for the past five years). I believe that the best way to protect my job, your job, and all of our profession is to vote NO on this Tentative Agreement.

Here are my reasons why.

But what about healthcare?

The extension of laid off teachers’ healthcare is usually bargained in Impacts and Effects bargaining, but for the first time this wasn’t done before we went into bargaining the TA.  Therefore the district is holding our healthcare hostage so they can pressure us to pass a poorly written TA.  If we vote no on the TA, benefits still can be bargained through Impacts and Effects — how this is usually done year after year.

This year Impacts and Effects bargaining began in May and everything was completed EXCEPT healthcare. Why? Surprisingly, the Impacts and Effects team last met May 31 according to the SDEA website and had yet to complete the process.  We can still bargain our healthcare extension.  We do not need the TA to extend healthcare.

The district has proven to us that there is money for the healthcare extension.  How do we know?  In the TA, the district uses SDEA monies to extend our healthcare, not their own money (in the VEBA grievance, each SDEA member should had received $400 for healthcare changes in 2010, but instead, in the TA the union is agreeing to use that money to extend healthcare).

If SDEA decides to actually finish the Impacts and Effects bargaining, laid off teachers can and should have healthcare extended. If we’re using our own grievance settlement money anyway, the district has no grounds to object, because they are still obligated to settle that grievance.  This allows us to vote NO, for a better deal.

What does the TA say to the district:

There will be layoffs year after year.  The TA assumes that there will be layoffs; they are positioning themselves to attack our healthcare for next year when they lay us off AGAIN.

If this TA is ratified, this teaches the district that all they have to do is lay us off year after year, and SDEA members will “rise” to the occasion to save us.  We are giving the district our paycheck this year with this TA.  What will have to give up next time?  Benefits are the only thing left to bargain with next year.  This guarantees that we will be used by the District as a bargaining chip in the form of perpetual layoffs every year for years to come.

I will vote NO.  I do not want to be used as a bargaining chip. We have worked too hard to hand over our contract to the district.

What the TA does to our future:

This is our lifetime earning being taken away.  The district has no intention of paying teachers what was legally bargained.  The district does not have a pattern of increasing our salaries when “times are good.”  If we give the district our pay restorations, it will impact the potential we will earn throughout our lifetime.  This fight is for our future.

I will vote NO to protect the profession.

Why it is okay to vote no:

We have to force a better path with a NO vote. This NO vote will make SDEA organize and bargain for a better position.  We have never given up before, and we shouldn’t this year.

It is the same situation every year, SDEA members need to fight to protect the profession and demand that the district and SDEA do the right thing, go back to the bargaining table, and negotiate a FAIR agreement that includes concessions from BOTH sides.

—Michelle Sanchez

Teacher and AR, Garfield High School

SDEA Secretary-Elect

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