By Michelle Sanchez, SDEA Secretary and Candidate for CTA State Council Delegate
Last week SDEA finally posted a partial list of our SDEA committees on their website. This is a step in the right direction, and follows two months of members’ requests. However, only the SDEA committees that are listed in our Bylaws are posted. The various contractual committees (like the Contract Administration Committee) and ad hoc committees (like the Bylaws Committee) are left off. This partial posting violates the motion approved by the SDEA Board in December, which was that all SDEA committees be posted on the website.
In fact, I have been pushing for SDEA to post not only all of the committees on their website, but also the dates, times and locations of meetings. Many members have contacted me about this in my role as the SDEA Secretary, and so I made a motion to do so at the December SDEA Board meeting. Unfortunately, my motion failed. Even more regrettably, any record of this discussion in the minutes was later redacted by the SDEA Board from my minutes. It is incredibly disappointing to me as a dues-paying union member that the other members of the SDEA Board would vote to give members less information about our union’s committees. We all deserve to attend and observe these meetings, unless a personnel issue is being discussed. We deserve to be able to learn what the different committees do and what decisions they make! It would also encourage more members to get involved with our union. Isn’t that a good thing?
Immediately after my motion failed, though, SDEA Vice President Lindsay Burningham made a motion that we list the SDEA committees on the website. While this was a great deal less information than our members should have access to, it did pass and as a result some of our committees have made their way onto the SDEA website.
I am not alone in my efforts to make our union’s inner workings more available to members. At the December Rep. Council, Roosevelt Association Representative Bobbe Abbts also requested that committee meeting dates and times be posted online so that she and others could attend. SDEA President Bill Freeman has stated at Rep. Council that all committee meetings are open for members to attend and observe. However, when asked how members are supposed to be able to attend and observe meetings if no schedule is available to our membership, Freeman gave no clear answer. Instead, our union President said he does not want “some or certain” members attending to disperse “misinformation.” (I assume this was a response to this blog post about the SDEA Bylaws Committee. We’ve asked several times for factual corrections to be provided if there are any, but have received none.)
It’s amazing that SDEA members are having to fight so hard to get something so basic from our union. But this (very small) step in the right direction on SDEA’s part shows that if we keep the pressure on, we will keep making incremental gains towards transparency in our union.
It will be great on the day when not just all our committees are posted, but the times and dates of their meetings are posted as well. This information belongs to all SDEA members, and not in the hands of few.