Since SDEA declared impasse last week, our inbox has been flooded with emails asking us what our take is, and if we’ve retired.
First the easy question. No, we haven’t retired. We’ve been working our tails off trying to make our union stronger and support our bargaining campaign in our new positions this year. B-Fasters in our union’s ranks include our Vice President, a little less than half of our seated union board (what a difference a little less versus a little more makes…), and scores of union committee members, especially the Organizing Committee. We’ve been quiet online, but not in the union hall or out at school sites.
The good news is that we have had some success helping shore up our bargaining campaign. Just compare last year’s “organizing” around the Fight for 5 to this year’s. But after SDEA’s actions last week and your responses to it, it’s time for us to speak up.
What do we make of the state of our bargaining table?
- A 1.5% raise for this year? Are you kidding? At our bargaining input sessions last year, when thousands of members gave input for what we wanted in our 2014-15 contract, the top priority was overwhelmingly a raise. A good one! Regardless of any other argument, a 1.5% raise this year just does not match the direction thousands of SDEA members clearly gave our union leaders. Pushing the bulk of our proposed raise into 2015-16 just gives the district longer to spend the Prop. 30 money on everything but us in the meantime (and boy, are they spending). Plus, SDEA is proposing to stagger the 6% raise throughout next year, which means no one would see the full raise until 2016-17. By then we’ll be negotiating our next contract, and can anticipate the same argument we’re hearing now from the district: “But we just gave you a raise…” And our union buying it all over again, too.
- There was a Rep. Council meeting just a few days before our bargaining team dropped our proposal to a 1.5% raise for this year. At that Rep. Council, many ARs expressed that even the current 4% this year/4% next year proposal was getting awfully low for a lot of members. There was NO indication from the front of the room that the team was about the drop to a 1.5%, let alone any attempt to get feedback from the 100 elected Association Representatives who were there. A lot of you have told us it feels like June 2012 all over again, when there was a Rep. Council just days before the union opened up our contract to make concessions, without a peep that it was a possibility to the Rep. Council.
- We have now officially dropped below the threshold that other large urban unions in California are setting with their post-Prop.30 bargaining campaigns. Remember, San Francisco’s union won a 12% raise over three years coming out of mediation. We’re now at 7.5% over two years going into mediation. And teachers in Los Angeles also just declared impasse, after they rejected a 5% offer for this year from LAUSD.
- This royally screws members who are planning to retire this year. These are the same people who already got screwed under the June 2012 agreement. Not only did our veteran teachers feel the furloughs the most because they didn’t get step increases, their retirement was permanently impacted. For many of us, our STRS retirement pay is based on our three highest years of salary. Had the 7% raise hit when it was supposed to, 2014-15 would have capped off the three highest years of pay for teachers retiring this year. Instead, our most veteran members spent the past several years making even less than they used to. A substantial raise this year could have undone a little of that damage. Now those same members, many of whom went on strike back in 1996 to win raises for everyone back when they were new teachers, are getting hit the hardest again.
- Finally, why in the world make a big wage concession now that we’re finally organizing, getting media coverage, building pressure and starting to win at the table? The impasse FAQ posted on SDEA’s website has the impasse timeline dragging into the summer already. Why drop our raise demand to rush into impasse now? There’s no reason we couldn’t have hung onto a decent raise demand for this year a little longer and let the rallies and other pressure tactics continue to work.
To summarize, SDEA’s current offer does not match the clear input of our members, is another example of asking forgiveness instead of permission from the members, means that we’re destined to continue to lag behind our urban counterparts for the foreseeable future, screws over our veteran educators, and just doesn’t make any sense given the current dynamic at the table.
So no, we don’t think this is good news.
What can we do about it? We need to be more involved, not less. There is a special Rep. Council this Wednesday, March 25th. Make sure someone from your school is going, and that they are prepared to share concerns from members at your school. If your school hasn’t had a rally yet, now’s the time. If our pressure fizzles out, you can bet we’ll be seeing even more concessions on our side at the table. SHOW UP at the next School Board meeting action planned for April 14th, and whatever other actions our union plans. If we want to keep our raise from sinking even lower, we have to fight for it.
And last but maybe most important, VOTE for people who will continue to fight for the best possible contract. Here are four people who will absolutely HOLD THE LINE if elected to the SDEA board. Let’s make it happen:
- Seat #1: Shane Parmely (Crawford/Hoover/Morse secondary)
- Seat #4: Carolina Martinez (Lincoln/Mission Bay/San Diego elementary)
- Seat #7: Jenny Rivera (Clairemont/Henry/Kearny/Point Loma elementary)
- Seat #8: Monique Anderson (Clairemont/Henry/Kearny/Point Loma secondary)
You can download our campaign flyer to pass out, and also take a look at candidates we recommend for CTA, which everyone can vote for:
We hope to see you at the next School Board meeting. Let’s make sure SDEA and SDUSD know that the only way a new contract is getting settled and RATIFIED is if educators get the fair pay we deserve.
P.S. Just to beat the naysayers to the punch, no, writing a blog post calling on our union to stop watering down our contract campaign is NOT divisive. SDEA members want to unite around a strong contract campaign that reflects our input, and that’s what B-Fasters are and have been fighting for all along. Show up at any event supporting our bargaining campaign and our union, and you’ll see us every single time. When we started the Breakfast Club three years ago, it was about two main things: Making our contract stronger and our union more democratic and inclusive. When we see things happening that don’t line up with those two strong union goals, we’re going to call it out. And we absolutely believe our union has gotten stronger, not weaker, in the past three years because of it. So we are going to keep opening our mouths and speaking our minds, even (and probably especially) when it makes people uncomfortable. Agree or disagree, we hope you do the same!