By Shane Parmely, CTA State Council Delegate/Candidate for SDEA Board Seat 5
And AGAIN with Censoring the Board Minutes…
The fireworks at the September 18, 2013 SDEA Board meeting started early during approval of the minutes. Scott Mullin insisted that part of the minutes about Round Table be removed. Attending members are no longer allowed to get a copy of the previous meeting’s minutes, but it seemed that the lines that Mullin wanted deleted pertained to Mullin using his Board position and business card to gain access to schools to campaign for Lindsay Burningham, and to collect emails to “turn out the vote” when really they were being collected for future campaigning on behalf of Burningham.
Common Core “Consult” Team Will Meet with District without ANY Member Input
Committee appointments continued, even though committee information was not shared at Rep Council as required by a previous Board vote. The Grievance Committee, chaired by Board member Kristin Brown, was approved with one new member added. And when the discussion moved to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Consult Team, Secretary Michelle Sanchez made a motion to NOT approve the committee and to wait until SDEA got input from members about our priorities. The CCSS Consult will be meeting with the District to agree upon the manner in which the CCSS will be implemented in our district and how the $22 million in accompanying state funds will be spent. The problem with this is that consultation is basically like Bargaining Lite or Diet Bargaining. Our union should not be assembling a team of four people (including Vice President Lindsay Burningham and just-ousted former Board member Iris Anderson) to sit down to “consult” with the District before getting any input from members.
Here is the EERA language regarding the right to consult:
(a) The scope of representation shall be limited to matters relating to wages, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment. “Terms and conditions of employment” mean health and welfare benefits as defined by Section 53200, leave, transfer and reassignment policies, safety conditions of employment, class size, procedures to be used for the evaluation of employees, organizational security pursuant to Section 3546, procedures for processing grievances pursuant to Sections 3548.5, 3548.6, 3548.7, and 3548.8, the layoff of probationary certificated school district employees, pursuant to Section 44959.5 of the Education Code, and alternative compensation or benefits for employees adversely affected by pension limitations pursuant to Section 22316 of the Education Code, to the extent deemed reasonable and without violating the intent and purposes of Section 415 of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, the exclusive representative of certificated personnel has the right to consult on the definition of educational objectives, the determination of the content of courses and curriculum, and the selection of textbooks to the extent such matters are within the discretion of the public school employer under the law. All matters not specifically enumerated are reserved to the public school employer and may not be a subject of meeting and negotiating, provided that nothing herein may be construed to limit the right of the public school employer to consult with any employees or employee organization on any matter outside the scope of representation.
Sanchez wanted to add this topic to the bargaining input meetings planned for October and November so that member input could drive the proposals made by our union consult team. Burningham said that we need to get the committee up and running now, before getting any member input, because the District has already put together a work group and it’s already starting. From Burningham’s description, it sounds like this is the same District work group that was put together over the course of a couple months at the end of last school year. So why the sudden rush like no one knew this was happening? Jenny Rivera expressed her frustration that SDEA did not educate SDEA members about the formation of this consult team before a small group of SDEA leaders decided our union’s course of action for us. Rivera stated that she would like to be on the committee and she didn’t even know about its existence until she was being asked to approve it — and she is a Board member.
At one point, things got weird. Freeman said that the consult team is by no way considered experts on Common Core. That Burningham is not an expert. That none of them are. The consult team is just going to take notes, come back and listen to members. Given that Sanchez and Eleanor Evans both participated on District work groups that created CCSS units of study that were then shared with other teachers, wouldn’t it make sense to include them and other educators like them? Shouldn’t we want people that have been working on the CCSS for a while to be on the consult team?
While Evans had originally seconded Sanchez’s motion, she ultimately voted against it. Eventually a motion to approve the CCSS Consult Team passed 6-7, showing once again how important each Board vote is.
(Update: As of Oct. 4, the SDEA Common Core Consult Team has had two sessions with the District and will have another one next week. No survey has gone out to SDEA members about what we want our consult team to push for, and no updates have gone out about the contents of negotiations so far.)
Committee Debate Shows Difference between Breakfast Club and the Freeman/Burningham Caucus
Over the last few SDEA Board meetings, I’ve heard a few veiled comments about how we used to have committees but then previous leadership dismantled them. So here’s the deal… SDEA did used to have a lot of committees that we stopped having. During the Board meeting, someone pulled the committee list out of the SDEA Board member’s binder and held it up. It is a double-sided sheet that looks like it lists about thirty committees on each side. And it was basically the same people serving on them.
Yes. When Camille Zombro was president, she and the Board elected with her dismantled many non-essential centralized committees. And she replaced those centralized committees with a site based organizing plan to basically build a union committee at every single worksite. Instead of having ten or twelve centralized committees working in isolation, the goal was for every single site to build a site organizing committee that would take on the issues facing our membership and have ownership over the decision making process. This organizing plan was approved by the Rep Council, and it is the reason our union was able to win so many gains during the 2008-2010 bargaining. And the union’s current majority leadership, led by Board members like Freeman and Burningham and Mullin, is pushing to swing the pendulum back the other way, to recreate those centralized union committees and devote leadership and staff time to those efforts rather than keeping a singular, laser-like focus on building union power out at our schools. And unsurprisingly, those committees are being populated by a handful of familiar names, not by the many rank-and-file union members from all over our massive union.
Why does this matter? Why should we care about something as mundane as committees? Because this is one of many issues that highlights a really stark, really important difference between the philosophy of the two caucuses within our union. Here’s what it comes down to. Where does our union live? Does it live in an office in Mission Valley, or does it live on every single one of our campuses with us as union members? I believe in the second choice — and I believe that saying you believe in organizing is different than actually doing it.
Banana Republic: SDEA Election Update
During Round Table, Nancy Dosick (one of the Breakfast Club candidates whose victory was overturned by the previous SDEA Board) shared that she had read the election announcement in The Advocate about her own seat, and she wanted to know if the re-running of the election for her seat was open to anyone, and if she needed to file her election paperwork again. Burningham told Dosick that she had received an email from Election Co-Chair Kandi Nieto with information about the rerun and began looking through her phone to find the email. Freeman said that he had also received the same email about rerunning the election and that he would send it to Dosick. At this point, Executive Director Tim Hill got up and left the room. Dosick went on to state that communication has been an issue in this election and that she still had not ever been contacted in any way, shape, or form by the Election Committee regarding anything to do with her election. It had been SIX MONTHS and no one had ever called, emailed, or written to let Dosick know that the Election Committee had received a challenge regarding her win, had recommended to overturn her win, and that the SDEA Board voted to overturn her election victory. SIX. MONTHS. (Breakfast Club CTA candidate Emily Neidhart, whose victory was also invalidated, also only learned about the re-running of her seat by reading it in The Advocate.) Freeman told Dosick to email him if she hadn’t heard from Nieto by Friday.
Since the Freeman/Burningham Board majority keep using their vice grip on the procedural technicalities to fight our election wins… we’ll just have to keep winning. So in case you missed the tiny notice on the bottom of the second page of The Advocate, there is another election coming: The rerunning of the election victories of Nancy Dosick and Emily Neidhart, as well as the Board seat left open when Barry Dancher retired and two partial term CTA seats open due to retirement and resignation. I’m running for the open Board seat, and we will be announcing our two CTA candidates by the Oct. 9 Rep Council, so stay tuned!