- SDEA President Bill Freeman won’t allow floor motions to make our election procedures in our Bylaws more secure.
- SDEA Executive Director Tim Hill announces that SDEA agrees with the District: Our elected ARs can’t put union materials in member mailboxes without SDEA’s approval.
- SDEA still refuses to provide recall petitioners with the number of members until after the recall deadline passes.
- SDEA makes final push to pass Prop. 30 and defeat Prop. 32.
“Beware” Is Right?
— by Bobbe Abts, Roosevelt AR
Back at the August Rep. Council meeting, during the Q&A time, I asked SDEA President Bill Freeman how to go about getting a Bylaws change consideration onto the next Rep. Council Agenda.
The changes that I think our Rep Council should consider making are:
1. Always, with no exceptions, there should be an outer signature envelope every time we vote.
2. We should set up some kind of 24/7 web cam on the ballot box, or allow 24-hour member access, during voting days so that there is never a question about the integrity of the voting process.
Bill said to just email him the request and he would get it on the next agenda. I did that.
However, despite following Bill’s instructions, he did not place my two requested items for Bylaw changes on the next agenda. Instead, at the September Rep. Council meeting we were informed that the Bylaws committee would be meeting the very next day — just 24 hours notice given. I would have most certainly attended had I known about the meeting earlier, but I had a doctor’s appointment that could not be changed. Garfield/Twain teacher Shane Parmely did attend the meeting, and wrote up her experience HERE. My two requested changes were not discussed at all. Instead, the proposed changes included making our Bylaws less, not more, democratic.
Since Bill did not take the actions he promised, a group of ARs and CRs decided to engage in the democratic process directly, which is what our members elect us to do. We decided to make a motion during the Bylaws Committee Report at the October Rep. Council, the perfect and appropriate time to make this motion.
To educate our fellow ARs about what we were planning, we passed out a flyer describing the motion we were going to make on the way into the Rep. Council:
Providing this information to the ARs as they were entering the meeting is transparency and open communication at its finest! The purpose was stated and the intent was to provide information and prior knowledge.
At the same time, another group was handing out a different flyer. With the bold heading BEWARE, this flyer was advising ARs not to sign any recall petitions. This flyer incorrectly stated that the goals of those behind the recall effort is to “ignore the current state and local education funding crisis and demand pay increases while 1372 unit members collect unemployment checks or struggle to find other means of employment.”
This flyer is intentionally misleading and insulting. The purpose of the recall effort is to give our membership the opportunity to have our voices heard, to express again how we feel about the current leadership, and to give us the chance to vote on the Board members’ actual voting record (which is different than the “No Layoffs, No Concessions” platform they ran on in March right before entering concessions negotiations with the District). The truth is that many members are very upset that their right to vote was so casually sidestepped in June when there was no procedure in place for those out of town to cast their vote on the TA, and many members are very upset that there was no security signature on the election envelopes. Those members have a right to lodge their protests without being called “anti-union” or “anti-laid off teacher” as this flyer does. This is America, not a country where those who hold an opposing point of view should be frowned upon.
Things worsened once we got inside the Rep. Council. During the report from the Bylaws Committee, I was planning to make the motion about the outer signature envelopes and providing monitoring of the ballot box. I followed Robert’s Rules of Order. I stepped up to the microphone and stated my name and site. I said these words:
“My name is Bobbe Abts, AR from Roosevelt Middle, and I move—”
And then I was cut off by President Bill Freemen, who asked the ARs if they wanted to vote to consider the motion at this time. WHAT MOTION?!!! I had not even made the motion! Bill called for the vote, and the opportunity to consider the “motion”, or rather the first three words of it, was defeated.
I thought our union embraced the democratic process. I guess not.
And this is not the first time I’ve raised concerns about our democratic processes with Bill, only to receive no response. As recently as Oct. 3, I emailed Bill my concerns about Rep. Council, including that the pre-meeting Q&A session has been cut short the past several Rep. Councils. I also asked him again to include the above Bylaws changes on the next Rep. Council agenda. Bill’s response to me included, “I have made some changes to Rep. Council to eliminate the personal agendas members are attempting.”
Since when is democracy a personal agenda?
So that’s where we are now. We have an SDEA Board that has taken numerous steps over the last eight months to be less transparent, to communicate less with the membership, to go back on their promises, to take away our rights, and to put up every roadblock it can to our absolute right to conduct a vote to show our confidence, or lack thereof, in them.
I’m frustrated, disgusted, and absolutely terrified about what these Board members will allow the District to do to us and our contract come this spring. And I hope everyone who feels the same way I do will stand up and do something about it.
Please contact me if you’d like to get involved.