— by Peter Burrell, Serra HS CR
I attended the most recent accountability session with SDUSD School Board member Richard Barrera last Wednesday. SDEA’s main concern (which we discussed before the meeting began) was the looming threat of layoff notices this spring. To Barrera’s credit, he and three other School Board members voted to not issue pink slips this spring, a process the District would have had to begin presently. Although his information was met with skepticism by some of us who attended, he assured us that there will not be layoffs this spring. This is merely a first step — the real test will be whether this year, the District actually honors the raises they bargained with us now that Prop. 30 has passed.
The rest of the session centered on the charges of Unfair Labor Practices and contract violations that SDEA has with the District. I spoke to the issue of the new fees the District has begun charging new retirees. The District is charging new fees for retirees who maintain their healthcare provider from the District/VEBA negotiated plan. My concern is that new fees coupled with stagnant wages leads to a decrease in retiring teachers’ standard of living.
Knowing that Barerra is a union organizer for the California Nurses Association (CNA), I mentioned that in 2003 my income was equal to my wife’s, who is a trauma nurse at UCSD and a CNA member. My yearly income for 2011 was $100 less than what I made in 2003, while my wife’s income has nearly doubled in that time. My base salary, nearly stagnant for ten years, will determine my retirement income for the rest of my life. SDEA members’ salaries haven’t kept pace with the cost of living. Therefore any new fees only add to the demise of retirees’ standard of living, especially of those for whom STRS is their only source of income. Barrera, of all people, should be an advocate for his employees on the Board, just like he has been for the workers he represents. Last year he let us down, voting for unnecessary layoffs and leading the charge for us to open our contract and give up our pay increases — pay increases like the one CNA has secured for its members. Hopefully this year he will show more leadership.
Several of our members spoke to the issue of the District refusing arbitration in these matters rendering our contract unenforceable. Barrera was reluctant to take a position other than to agree to encourage the District to settle disputes that have no financial impact (such as principals requiring lesson plans two weeks in advance) before the issues even come to arbitration.
The final SDEA School Board accountability session is with Kevin Beiser on Feb. 1 at 3:30 at Patrick Henry High School. For reports of previous meetings, click the links below: