SDEA Board Report: New Members Push for Union Action, Openness

By Shane Parmely, CTA State Council Delegate

Ready for Action

It was both exciting and rewarding to see the newly elected Breakfast Club slate of Peter Burrell, Nancy Dosick, Stephanie Marble, Teem Osborn, and Jenny Rivera sitting at the table during the first SDEA Board meeting of the year on August 27th, 2013.  It was not very exciting, however, that the meeting lasted three and a half hours.  As the Board went through the agenda items it seemed like a large part of the conversation was about topics everyone already knew about and agreed on.  I noticed this happened a lot during last year’s Board meetings, too.

The Board discussed different types of organizing we will be doing this year and the Board of Directors’ goals.  I listened to a lot of discussion about these topics last year.  To date, despite the frequent discussion of action, I haven’t seen much actual action, let alone action that has resulted in changing the status quo, coming out of the SDEA Board.  I truly hope to see tangible results this year considering the time, energy, and union resources being devoted to these pursuits. And I know that our new Board members are committed to making these things happen.

Reinterpreting the Rules

Unfortunately, new Board member Peter Burrell’s first attempt at moving the Board in a productive direction was stymied by SDEA President Bill Freeman and Vice President Lindsay Burningham. Burrell attempted to move that SDEA NOT re-run the two SDEA elections overturned by the previous Board based on an email that the candidates didn’t send or know about. Freeman ruled the motion out of order, and Burningham explained that the Board isn’t allowed to undo actions by a previous Board. That didn’t sound right to me, so I did some research, and it turns out that’s not actually true. Our meetings are run by Robert’s Rules of Order, which allow a Board to reconsider an action taken in a previous session (e.g. by the previous Board). That’s the whole point of union democracy. If members don’t like the direction of the union, they can vote in new leaders who actually have the power to change things. It doesn’t make sense for a new Board’s hands to be tied by actions taken by previous ousted leaders — and they’re not. Last year Freeman and Burningham frequently used the technicalities of parliamentary procedure to accomplish their goals. Let’s hope they don’t stop following the rules so closely now that their Board majority has almost vanished. And no matter what, this shows how much every single Board vote counts. If you’re in the Lincoln, Mission Bay or San Diego cluster, you’ll be able to vote for a Board seat this fall: Nancy Dosick (for elementary teachers) or for me, Shane Parmley (for secondary).

Speaking of Accountability Sessions

Last but definitely NOT least was Round Table. SDEA Secretary Michelle Sanchez made four points:

  1. At the June SDEA Board meeting during Round Table, former Board member Dennis Schamp named an SDEA member and told the other Board members that she had been reprimanded by HR for using District email to send out a mass email.  (He was referring to the email that the Breakfast Club sent out during the recall campaign.)  Sanchez informed the current SDEA Board that this statement was not only false but that it was completely unacceptable for an SDEA Board member to bring up a confidential personnel issue during a public portion of the meeting.  After Schamp made this statement, Sanchez contacted the member, who was surprised that Schamp would say something that was completely untrue.  To clarify: SDEA members are absolutely allowed to use District email to contact each other regarding union issues outside of scheduled work hours.  (However, this has never stopped the District from blocking Breakfast Club emails to colleagues regarding union business.)
  2. SDEA Board members went out to school sites at the end of the previous school year, used their SDEA business card to get on campus, collected email addresses under the pretense of “helping turn out the vote”, and passed out campaign material for Burningham.  Sanchez wanted to know if the email addresses that had been collected were going to be shared with all of the candidates, since they were gathered using union resources.  Freeman responded to this by saying that “they may have been” at schools on “their” own time and that Board members had to pay for their own business cards.  I found his choice of the pronoun “they” odd considering that Freeman was present with Board member Scott Mullin at Crawford High School the morning of May 28th collecting these names, home phone numbers, and email addresses.
  3. SDEA Board members need to receive the email addresses of the ARs in their respective Areas so that Board members can contact them.
  4. At the June Rep Council, Mullin walked around the Rep. Council floor passing out a flyer.  (Even though the flyer was addressed to all SDEA members, he refused to give several people a flyer when we asked for one.)  Sanchez pointed out that the flyer was a letter to all members and indicated that it was from “SDEA leadership.” However Sanchez, an elected member of SDEA leadership, had never seen the flyer.  Freeman retorted that Sanchez also passed out flyers at Rep Council, and she rightly countered that she always has either her own name on it or the Breakfast Club caucus name on it.  There’s never any question who the flyer is from. It is inappropriate to say a flyer is from SDEA leadership unless all of the leaders have signed off on it.

Good job Michelle Sanchez, and good job to all our newly elected Board members in fighting the good fight. That’s why we elected you, so keep it up!

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