Since last spring, many SDEA members who have gone years without being involved in our union have started paying attention. I know I always figured that “the union people” knew what they were doing and would take care of things, and that I didn’t need to be involved. By the time I and many others realized maybe they didn’t have things taken care of last spring, it was too late. That’s how we ended up giving up a 7% raise, taking another 2.7% pay cut, and staring down an 8% pay cut next month if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass. That’s why I and many others are paying attention now, and we intend to stick around.
That should be good news for the SDEA members who have been active for a long time. Unions are stronger when members are engaged, and so long-time active members should see this influx of member involvement as an asset, not a threat. But that does not seem to be the case.
On Oct. 3rd, we shared the link on our Facebook page for the blog post “SDEA Refuses to Tell Filers How many Signatures We Need Get”. On Oct. 9th, SDEA Board member Kristin Brown commented on the post. By the time she commented, the post was somewhat buried on our Facebook page which meant she had to scroll down the page and look through our Facebook content to find it. Her response to our complaint was surprisingly candid. For those of you who can’t see the full image, here is the quote that is most telling: “ I’ve been around SDEA a lot longer than you and I’ll be there long after you’re gone.”
A couple of thoughts we’d like to share:
1) While Kristin Brown may view herself as an SDEA “O.G.” being the daughter of former SDEA Presidents does not endow her with the divine right to rule in our union. There is definitely a small group of people within SDEA that are highly involved in many committees at the local SDEA, state CTA, and national NEA level. While we value their involvement and service, we absolutely oppose the notion that this somehow makes these people more of an SDEA member than anyone else that pays dues, or somehow enables them to ignore member input because they “know what is best” for the rest of us.
2) Kristin Brown’s response is small and petty. And when I asked her to cite the source of her information and identify what specifically is illegal, she changes the subject and attacks us by accusing us of hiding our identities. “So why don’t you just count and figure it out” is something I would expect to hear a child yell while losing an argument, not something I would expect to see a Board member post online in response to a legitimate member concern.
3) As SDEA Vice President, Camille Zombro had access to all SDEA members’ emails. And as Vice President, she emailed everyone last year to express her concerns that SDEA President Bill Freeman was going to open our contract and that we educators were about to make contract concessions. And she was right.
4) Absolutely nothing about her emailing members was illegal. Which Bylaw did her email violate? Yet the “leaders” of SDEA apparently hope that if they repeat this lie enough, the rest of us will just believe that it must be true. The fact that Camille Zombro was completely entitled to email membership and voice a dissenting opinion in her role as elected SDEA leadership is exactly why Bill Freeman is now attempting to have the Bylaws Committee rewrite our Bylaws so that he can prevent anyone from publicly disagreeing with him again. We deserve better from our union leadership.