There are two types of unions. There are unions that organize their members to become more powerful, fight with the boss to get good contracts, and then enforce those contracts. And there are unions that believe friendly collaboration with the boss is the way to improve life for union members.
Up until last spring, SDEA was very clearly the first kind of union. We organized our schools, fought the District to get a good contract, and then stood strong together to make sure the District recalled layoffs while honoring our contract.
But last spring, SDEA President Bill Freeman and Vice President Lindsay Burningham made a clear decision to become the second kind of union. They began to initiate open dialogue and collaboration with the District, rekindling relationships with SDUSD Board members and administrators that had been cut off after they voted for unnecessary layoffs in 2011.
What did this new collaboration get us? Big contract concessions, and a wave of ULP violations as the District has stopped honoring our contract.
Now here’s the latest — our new, “better” relationship with the District has gotten us a new CFO who wants to gut our healthcare, cut staff, and more.
Read HERE about Stan “Data” Dobbs. He is the new CFO whom our “pro-union” SDUSD School Board majority just hired. The best gems include his claim that the average teacher salary is $92,000 a year before benefits, and that the concept of fully paid family healthcare is a relic.
The real question is, how did someone like Dobbs get hired in the first place???
Every single one of the current five School Board members has been endorsed by SDEA at one point. Now that we have an open dialogue with the Board, shouldn’t we have been able to influence this decision? They could have hired anyone, and they chose to hire this anti-union, reality-challenged, self-proclaimed fiscal problem-solver.
Why? So the School Board can hide behind him during bargaining next year when they come after our healthcare. They didn’t hire him on accident. Remember, Barrera, Evans, Beiser and Barnett have all called for SDEA members to take cuts to our healthcare. Barnett and “pro-union” Barrera have been the biggest cheerleaders for getting all of us to either switch to Kaiser or pay big out of pocket premiums.
This is what collaboration gets us. And it’s what SDEA members are going to keep getting if we don’t vote in a stronger SDEA Board next month when we get the chance. We need to stop being a union of collaborators who keep getting taken advantage of, and go back to being a union that fights and wins. If we don’t, we can pretty obviously get ready to kiss our healthcare goodbye when we go back to the bargaining table next year.
UPDATE: After posting this blog last night, and after some incredibly heated commentary on the original VOSD post, both SDEA and the District have released their official responses to the Dobbs interview.
SDEA shared the math:
- The average teacher earns $65,901
- The cost of health coverage for the average teacher is $10,111
- The combined total of $76,656 for salary and benefits, means the new CFO overestimated the cost of the average teacher by MORE THAN 46 PERCENT
And Kowba shared his “regret“:
“I regret and apologize for the inaccuracies and misstatements in his interview.”
Some regret. Here’s his next sentence:
“I will continue to value Stan’s insight and in the weeks and months ahead I will be working with him closely so that he gains the background and detailed understanding of our budget that he will need to lead our district finances and support student achievement.”
We’ve got a CFO who seems to be pretty “below basic” when it comes to math, but Kowba values his insight???
So we’re back where we started. If we want to change the District’s behavior, we need our union to act like a union. Fiery emails are a fine first step. Now let’s see SDEA turn up the heat!