For those of you wondering what’s been going on since the SDEA election, the answer is, a lot!
By Shane Parmely, SDEA Board member
We can’t wait for our Board majority to be seated on August 1. In the meantime, B-Fasters all over SDEA continue to push our union to be stronger, and continue to fight back the increasingly bad behavior from the District. Since so much has gone on, each section below has just the main highlights. If you’re interested in hearing more, as always, shoot us an email.
April 29th SDUSD Sunshine Bargaining Proposal
There’s probably been enough written about this, but it is literally the worst contract proposal SDUSD has ever offered our union. Can you really blame them? And instead of working to get a big turnout at the Board meeting, SDEA again simply sent a small group.
April 30th SDEA Board Meeting
Vice President-elect Michelle Sanchez and I asked about the organizing plan to support our contract negotiations with the District, particularly given the District’s terrible proposal to us. The lack of a clear, aggressive union-wide organizing plan has been an ongoing source of frustration for many of us, and will be a top priority for the B-Fasters on the Board starting in August. SDEA Field Organizers Jonathon Mello and Abdul Sayid had just returned from the Labor Notes Conference as part of their SDEA training so we were hopeful that new actions would be organized and implemented. Nope. We’re just gonna keep passing out fliers and wearing Fight for Five buttons, and attend a “city-wide”” march that went nowhere near the District office to somehow show the District we mean business. See below for how that worked out.
May 1st May Day Rally
SDEA sent out an all-call to the entire membership to attend this event. This was the “big rally” SDEA staff and President Bill Freeman had said would be good enough to support our current contract bargaining. About 12 SDEA members showed up. Almost all of us were B-Fasters. On the plus side, we did pass out Fight for 5 fliers to hundreds of SDHS students after dismissal.
May 14th SDEA Board Meeting
The SDEA Election Committee presented the SDEA Board with its recommendation regarding the election challenges. If you recall, the very first election challenges since the Breakfast Club began running union reform candidates were filed to overturn Nancy Dosick and Emily Neidhart’s victories over Marc Capitelli and Lindsay Burningham. The infraction? Another member not connected to them or their campaigns used District email to campaign for them. So when we filed a challenge of Marc Capitelli’s victory over Nancy Dosick, based on another member not connected to him using District email to campaign for him, obviously the Election Committee and Board would make the same recommendation and re-run the election, right? Nope. As usual, some SDEA members are more equal than others on the current Board.
During the discussion of each election challenge, Election Committee Co-Chair Kandi Nieto reinvented the definition of the word “recuse” and made a new rule wherein candidates involved in the challenge had to leave the room while the challenge regarding their election was discussed and voted on. Previously, we’d simply been instructed not to vote, but could remain in the room. (Board member Scott Mullin read a definition of “recuse” in order to help bolster Nieto’s reinterpretation of the word, but… you know… I’m an English teacher and they are both still wrong.) The plus side of being booted out of the room is that I got to hear the conversation of a late arriving teacher who asked Mello and VP Lindsay Burningham (also “recused”) if the Board meeting was over. She was concerned she had missed it. She said Freeman had called her and told her that he could use some friendly faces at the meeting and asked her to come. I literally laughed out loud. And flashed back to the Board meetings leading up to the June 2012 TA vote… those meetings had been packed, too, with laid off teachers who were fully supportive of Freeman opening our contract. I noticed that Freeman had managed to get WAY more members to attend this SDEA Board meeting to support him than he had to attend the big May Day rally and march to support our contract bargaining. Priorities. Anyway…
All of our challenges, which centered heavily on the incumbent slate accessing union resources to campaign, were disregarded. We’ve advanced the challenges to CTA, and expect to receive a response in July.
Later in Executive Session the SDEA Board voted on giving direction to the SDEA Bargaining Team. To date, it is the only time the Board has had the chance to give input to the Bargaining Team. Which means most of what they are offering to the District has not been approved by the elected representative body of our union.
May 21st Rep. Council
Freeman was out of town for this Rep. Council, so Burningham chaired the meeting. Dave Erving, who just ran against and lost to Michelle Sanchez for SDEA VP, was standing next to a microphone during Question & Answer and kept letting other people, including me, go ahead of him. I thought it was odd, but it all made sense when Burningham announced that the next comment would be the last one before the meeting started, and Erving stepped up to the microphone and launched into reading a typed, three-page slam of B-Fasters for filing an election challenge. Again, see above… The very first election challenges we ever saw were filed by Burningham and the incumbents, against us. But who needs facts, when you’ve got a bully pulpit?
Erving was allowed to turn his body away from the front to face the rest of the room (which we are directed not to), give comments and not a question (as we are directed not to), and speak as long as he wanted (as we are directed not to). Burningham stood silent, doing nothing the entire time he spoke. I stood up and waited my turn, and as soon as he was done, I began to speak. Immediately members of the incumbent slate began to boo and try to shout me down. Rep. Council actually had to take a vote on whether or not I would be allowed to speak, as Erving’s attack was clearly pointed at me. Rep. Council voted that I should be able to respond, and so I did. I simply pointed out that the very event we had just witnessed, and how clear it was that there are different rules for different union members based on whether or not you’re friends with the current leadership, is exactly why we’ve spent the past two years doing the work we’re doing. And we’re going to keep it up.
May 28th SDEA Board Meeting
You’d think that we’d be talking about giving direction to our Bargaining Team since they are going to be meeting with the District to put forth our offers. Nope. But during the secret Executive Session, the Board did discuss a personnel issue. The outcome (not the contents) of that discussion is public now, only because after Executive Session I requested that the motion that had been approved be put into the minutes. I REALLY wish I could tell you what people said during the conversation leading up to that vote. REALLY. Because I think members should know what their elected representatives do behind closed doors. But I can’t so I’ll just give you the facts outside of Executive Session…
In 2012, SDEA signed a three-year contract with CTA to provide SDEA’s Executive Director. That contract, which has resulted in Tim Hill being the Executive Director of SDEA, expires June 30, 2015. Please note the year. Our contract with CTA doesn’t expire for another year, and Hill had a full year left on his contract before the Board was supposed to decide whether or not to renew him. Based on things like, say, how he does bargaining our contract, which we have not yet had a chance to evaluate. But, BUT, Freeman decided to bring a motion during a lame duck session to extend SDEA’s contract with CTA for two more years beyond 2015. He decided that, instead of letting the newly elected, incoming SDEA Board decide what to do when the contract expired, he would reach into the future and tie the hands of the next Board by making that decision for them. You do the math and figure out who voted for this. (Did I mention how I really wish you could know what people actually said to justify their vote?! Wow.) Makes you wonder what’s gone on inside that office over the past two years for Hill to get his back so thoroughly scratched as Freeman’s last parting act as President.
June 9th Principal Meeting with Superintendent Cindy Marten
Let the Hunger Games begin! Just as Post and Bid was closing, Marten issued an eleventh hour decree that every site must cut one position. While Marten has subsequently attempted to pretend that principals somehow misunderstood and that’s not what she intended, it is. We’ve attached the memo given to principals:
June 10th SDUSD Board Meeting and June 11th Rep. Council
Many B-fasters have been involved in fighting back Marten’s last-minute cuts. We were a big part of the impressive turnout at the School Board meeting the next day (proof that SDEA can get members to the School Board if it actually bothers to try). It should be noted that while we rank-and-file members spoke against the act itself, Freeman and Burningham only spoke against the way these cuts had been communicated to SDEA by the District, not the cuts themselves. Pretty sure the rest of us weren’t cool with the message, no matter how it was said.
B-Fasters have also been heavily involved in the surprise delegations that have been dropping in on Marten at the District office, as well as the group that dropped in on the special closed session School Board meeting called to discuss Marten’s evaluation. After all, she wants to include community feedback in OUR evaluations, right? B-fasters have also been going to PTA and ELAC meetings, as well as leafleting parents at graduations and other events. At Rep. Council I shared the Hunger Games posters I made of Marten and the School Board members (see images at the bottom of this post), and brought copies for other ARs to take back to their schools.
It’s encouraging to be part of SDEA organizing activities that actually put some real pressure on the District administration. This is exactly the sort of organizing in support of our bargaining campaign that B-Fasters on the Board will be pushing for come August 1.
June 20th SDEA Board Retreat
I was not at the Board retreat due to family stuff (hooray summer!). But I got the run-down from VP-elect Sanchez. The goal of the retreat was to plan for the coming year. Doing this in June while the outgoing Board is still seated is a strange tradition Freeman started, that coincides with him beginning to lose Board elections to B-Fasters. At any rate, the B-Fasters in the room pushed for a greater emphasis on organizing to support bargaining in 2014-2015.
Also, apparently the Board packets included an “updated” version of what schools are in what Board areas, and who represents them. Sanchez noted that the UC Cluster had been moved from Board Area 4 to Board Area 2, which would impact who is eligible to sit in that seat. Sanchez asked Hill what in the world had happened, and he told her it was a “typo.” That’s not particularly reassuring either, but I sure hope it really was a “typo” and not a scheme to try to unseat a currently elected Board member who happens to be a B-Faster by moving his Cluster out of his Board area. Because that sure would be a major violation of our governance documents. Our Bylaws require that any Board area changes need to go through Rep. Council, and do not include any mechanism for removing a seated Board member other than a recall. Not to mention that Freeman trying to gerrymander Board areas at his last Board meeting in order to unseat political opponents would be incredibly unethical, even given the low bar already set … It’s hard to even be surprised any more, but this would really take the cake.
So What’s Next?
The new SDEA Board is seated August 1st. We cannot wait to finally have a majority of leaders in place who ran to make our union stronger and more transparent. We’ll keep you updated about the work the new Board is doing, as well as in the loop about upcoming elections this fall (at least two seats will be open due to retirements).
In the meantime, HAPPY SUMMER, B-FASTERS!!!
And as promised, here are the Cindy Marten Hunger Games posters: