SDEA Budget Hearing Shows Mixed Priorities in Union Spending (Part 1 of 3)

— by Rosemary Pang, TRACE member

I’ve never been one to join a group or get too involved in group activities, but last year’s actions by our Union leadership made me realize I needed to participate.  On March 27, I attended SDEA’s budget meeting which was led by SDEA Controller Diana Hayes.  The meeting began with Hayes providing updated budget numbers for budget items 700-1009 for 9/2011 – 8/2012 and 9/2012 – 2/2013 (see below for my detailed notes).  Participating members asked for clarification about many of the items, particularly items that were out of sync with the trend over the last four years.

About halfway through this process, SDEA President Bill Freeman (who came late to the meeting) announced that the purpose of this meeting was not to review each budget item but to find out from members where our dues should be spent.  It’s hard to understand how members can give input into the budget without our union taking the time to help us fully understand it, but we tried.

We as members made several suggestions, including:

  1. Increase our bargaining budget to prepare for next year’s contract negotiations. This should be our main focus next year.  We suggested that the budget increase to at least the level it was in the last major contract bargaining.

  2. Make sure we have an impartial professional negotiator for bargaining.  When we settled our contract in 2010 (the contract that contained our 7% raises and furlough restorations), it was negotiated by an Executive Director who was responsible solely to SDEA membership, not CTA or any other entity.  Those raises were bargained away by Interim SDEA Executive Director/CTA Manager Tom Madden.  In response to our suggestion, current SDEA Executive Director/CTA Manager Tim Hill noted that he has 30 years of negotiating experience and that we should trust that he would bargain in good faith for us.  But it’s hard to trust having CTA management bargain our contract, when CTA’s economic interest is in making sure they keep their membership numbers up, not necessarily in getting the best contract for local unions.  During this conversation, Freeman also admitted that all members on the bargainin team should be trained, but that several bargaining team members  for last spring’s TA were not, in fact, trained to bargain/negotiate.  I have to admit, that was shocking to hear.  We pay dues from our hard-earned, dwindling salaries to get untrained people to negotiate with the District’s professional negotiator?  Now, it makes a little more sense to me why we got what we got (or didn’t get).

  3. Complete reimbursement for autism training and free in-house training for future authorizations.  Hill noted that CTA was looking for a way to train teachers for the additional authorizations required by the state, which seems to underscore that this is something our local union could do, rather than wait to see if CTA does anything.

  4. If they choose to have a training fund then the trainings should be made easily available to all SDEA members and not just the “elite” few who seem to be attending them currently.  In one budget item, just three members spent $5,000+ of our local dues dollars attending an out-of-state conference.  (See below for the full breakdown.)  These union training opportunities are not publicized to the union membership, but we pay for them.

We also asked about the Crisis Fund for a possible strike, we would not want to go on strike but we should always be prepared in a bargaining year.  Freeman stated this did not fall under the privvy of the budget hearing. However, Hayes explained the crisis fund.  The crisis fund is a cumulative account where each member puts about one dollar in this fund per year.  The fund is not used for payments to strikers, it is used for supplies, space, phone banks, etc.  We do not know how much is actually in the account but it has been building since the last strike in the 1990s.

Another item that really stood out to me was the cost of SDEA/CTA/NEA local elections.  The range of a complete election year costs SDEA members anywhere from $9,000 to $23,000 in the last five years. However this year, elections for just the first six months of this fiscal year have cost members $20,000. This does not include the current Spring 2013 election with the run-offs and possible re-do of the challenged elections!  Wow!  We were able to look at a breakdown of each election. It averaged about $5,000 for an election.

It was clear to me that the amount of money spent on conferences, trainings and conventions is quite high given that these activities seem to be attended by a select few SDEA members.  SDEA increased the CTA conference budget to $21,000 for this year, when previous years it ranged from $875 to $5,000 I wonder why the big increase?  Who is attending these conferences?  How do we find out about these trainings?  Another particular item (802) jumped out at me.  The budgeted amount for this year was $975 but the actual amount spent was $5,564.  This money was spent for three people to attend the National Council of Urban Education Associations’ annual meeting for three days.  When questioned about the exact expenses incurred, Hayes and Freeman were not able to provide specific information.  We asked that all future meetings, conventions, conferences and trainings be posted on the SDEA website and in the Advocate so all members can participate.

The most costly items in the budget were items we did not review.  These items (200, 300, 400 items) include the salaries of the SDEA staff.  Since they were not listed separately, I calculated the average salary of our UniServ Field Organizers and Hayes to be roughly $135,000 (including salary, auto and phone allowances) and Support Staff (Contract Specialists and Secretaries) to be roughly $75,000 (including salary, mileage and overtime).  These figures do not include benefits, retirement, or any other possible “fringe” items.

Yes, you read those figures right. The average SDEA staffer is paid a lot more than the average teacher.  We can hear the counterarguments already: The SDEA staff are taking nine furlough days last year and this year. We work 179 days and they work all year long (minus, of course, their vacations…) But those are still staggering numbers.

It’s distressing enough to see that the District’s classifed administrators got a raise this year, our schools’ classified staff have no furlough days and got their raises, and the new Superintendent will get the 7.8% raise we should be getting…  But I hope that seeing the budget figures that show SDEA staff making a lot more money than the average teacher who pays their salaries will make everyone want to get involved in our union.  As the Kinks once sang, “Get up off your easy chairs, we’ve got a lot to do out there…”

Here’s the first thing you can do: Attend one of the two remaining SDEA budget input meetings. The dates are April 15 and April 24. Both are at 4 p.m. at the SDEA office.

DETAILED NOTES:  

SDEA Budget Hearing – March 27, 2013

Governance (700 items)

701: President’s Expenses (conferences/training sessions: transportation, lodging, meals)

A (07-08)   A (08-09)      A (09-10)     A (10-11)     A (11-12)      A (9/12 – 2/13)

 4348          2857                  4647              1737              1040              23

702: BOD (expenses incl. individual board member’s expenses, cost of one BOD retreat incl. release days, other similar expenses such as child care)

A (07-08)      A (08-09)    A (09-10)       A (10-11)      A (11-12)       A (9/12 – 2/13)

8812                10822            3534                10102             4973               5494

703: Representative Council (refreshments, door prizes for 10 meetings)

A (07-08)      A (08-09)     A (09-10)         A (10-11)      A (11-12)      A (9/12 – 2/13)

6779                6946               6494                  5617               5540              3302

706: Release Days (any not anticipated elsewhere in budget)

A (07-08)   A (08-09)      A (09-10)      A (10-11)     A (11-12)         A (9/12 – 2/13)

920               2070                5113                8543              +124                  3301

Affiliated Organizations (800 items)

801: NEA/RA Convention (transportation, meals, lodging for 40 delegates & 10 non-delegates; release days for 20 people for 6 days)

A (07-08)   A (08-09)     A (09-10)       A (10-11)     A (11-12)     A (9/12 – 2/13)

69744           28840           71050              71050          73106          0

802: NCUEA (Natl Council of Urban Education Associations dues and sending delegates to 2 annual meetings, 1 during NEA rep assembly)

A (07-08)    A (08-09)     A (09-10)      A (10-11)       A (11-12)      A (9/12 – 2/13)

1108              888                   1953               3194                664                 5564

803: LUAC (Large Urban Education Association of California – CTA to reimburse or pay directly)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)     A (09-10)     A (10-11)      A (11-12)          A (9/12 – 2/13)

10                    0                        530                 0                     0                            0

804: CCUEA (Cost of membership; CA Council of Urban Education Association – meetings occur at CTA State Council so no additional expense is required)

A (07-08)   A (08-09)     A (09-10)     A (10-11)     A (11-12)         A (9/12 – 2/13)

100                100                  495                100                 0                        0

809: CTA Service Center (Meals for SDEA’s delegates to CTA Service Center Council)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)     A (10-11)     A (11-12)       A (9/12 – 2/13)

380                  1155              1170               1086              0                       0

810: Organizational Relations (AFL-CIO membership, CPI dinner, ICWJ breakfast, various award dinners)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)     A (09-10)     A (10-11)    A (11-12)     A (9/12 – 2/13)

431                  4973               39036            41509          41160           17998

Committees, Task Forces, and Programs (900 items)

902: Bargaining (expenses and activities)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)      A (10-11)     A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

3920               37845           8730               1231              3547             469

903: Grievance (incidental expenses)

A (07-08)       A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)    A (11-12)      A (9/12 – 2/13)

436                    159                 86                   203               60                    55

904: Elections (committee expenses for up to 3 elections each year: printing, posting, misc charges)

A (07-08)   A (08-09) A (09-10) A (10-11) A (11-12) A (9/12 – 2/13)

9108 13640 12187 22851 19718 20153

907: Political Involvement Committee (incidental committee activities, meeting cost for discussions w/candidates, cost to attend rallies and lobbying expenses)

A (07-08)    A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)     A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

2022              846                102                 1905              113                55

909: Recognition (award incentives, social activities)

A (07-08)    A (08-09)   A (09-10)      A (10-11)      A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

1125               2303             2118                1554               219                335

914: Membership Recruitment (to convert fee payers to members, recruit new members)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)       A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

173                  69                   164                 146                   58                  55

916: Other Committees and Task Forces (AdHoc, task forces, joint District/SDEA committees)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)    A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

0                       1977              871                648                1033            816

919: MLK Breakfast

A (07-08)    A (08-09)      A (09-10)   A (10-11)     A (11-12)   A (9/12 – 2/13)

986                  528                  896               855                 520              555

925: New Teacher Program (used to be District New Teacher program)

A (07-08)    A (08-09)       A (09-10)   A (10-11)     A (11-12)  A (9/12 – 2/13)

293                  229                  636                55                   58                 55

926: Day of the Teacher (membership activity for DoT)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)     A (09-10)   A (10-11)    A (11-12)  A (9/12 – 2/13)

11934              9671               13792         5946             4848           55

927:  Internal Org/Cluster Activity (increase level of  activity w/in each board area; includes site visits release days)

A (07-08)      A (08-09)   A (09-10)    A (10-11)    A (11-12)   A (9/12 – 2/13)

1798                1039              46                  55                   707              3282

Training and Conferences:  1000 items

1001: SDEA Leadership Conferences (fall leadership, new AR, other leadership; some cost defrayment from vendor contributions)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)    A (11-12)    A (9/12 – 2/13)

32794             16199            4795             5004            5224             5833

1007: CTA/NEA Conferences (for SDEA members to attend CTA/NEA conferences)

A (07-08)      A (08-09)   A (09-10)    A (10-11)     A (11-12)   A (9/12 – 2/13)

595                   840                1701             875                2663            293

1009: Local Chapter Training/Organizing/RIF (local training directed by BoD; RIF expenses incl. attorney fees)

A (07-08)     A (08-09)    A (09-10)    A (10-11)     A (11-12)     A (9/12 – 2/13)

402                  4571             1893               9732             10871           2075

These were the items for the Board, but it was disturbing to see the entire budget for this school year. Here’s the breakdown for the SDEA staff compensation:

Executive Director

Salary:   129,757

Expenses:  3,102

Auto Allowance:  10,852 (average – auto allowance/6 staff)

Total:  $143,711

NOTE: This is just the part of Hill’s salary that SDEA pays. We have no idea how much more CTA pays, but it’s not a small amount if the past is any indicator.

UniServ Staff/Controller

Salary:   124,493 (average – total salary/5 UniServ and 1 controller)

Phone:  564 (average – phone/6 staff)

Auto:  10,852 (average – auto/6 staff)

Total:   $135,909

Support Staff

Salary:   73,749  (average – total salary/4)

Overtime:   1,000 (average – total salary/4)

Mileage:  250 (average – total mileage/4)

Total:   $74,999

One thought on “SDEA Budget Hearing Shows Mixed Priorities in Union Spending (Part 1 of 3)

  1. I was at the meeting and watched the current SDEA Board approve another DO-OVER election in complete disregard of its expense. Our Board has a fiduciary responsibility to use our dues appropriately and wisely. We must insist they fulfill their obligations to our membership and not play petty politics with our money.

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