Three Reasons I’m Worried We’re about to Take Another Lousy Deal

Tomorrow is the last bargaining session before mediation later this week. Here are three reasons I’m worried SDEA is going to ask us to accept yet another crappy deal before this week is done.

By Shane Parmely

CTA State Council/Bell Middle School

  1. April 9th SDEA Bargaining Update. As many of you noticed, it sounded oddly positive. Apparently we are all supposed to be excited that the district doubled its crappy offer for NEXT YEAR from 2% to 4%. Considering that when we started bargaining this contract LAST YEAR we were asking for 6% THIS YEAR, then we switched to demanding 10% over TWO YEARS, many of us are confused how being offered ZERO THIS YEAR and a 4% raise NEXT YEAR is good news. Sounds like a continuation of the district’s patronizing policy of undervaluing the educators that actually work with students. Combined with the fact that even SDEA has dropped our demand for this year to a whopping 1.5%, things don’t look good.
  2. April 14th Fight for 5 Rally. As many of you noticed and commented during the rally… attendance was low. Declaring impasse means you lose control of your bargaining timeline so SDEA ended up holding an action while thousands of members were on vacation. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was almost no publicity or outreach to members to get people to show up. I think I saw two emails. Two. I kept wondering if the event had been cancelled and I’m on the Organizing Committee! It was definitely not the sort of turnout push you expect from a union that actually thinks it’s gearing up to fight, not to fold.
  3. April 17th UTLA and LAUSD Reach a Tentative Agreement. This SHOULD be really good news for our bargaining. Teachers in LA just won a three-year contract with a 10% raise over this year and next year. It breaks down as 6% this year, 4% next year, and a wage reopener the third year. This should put major wind into our bargaining team’s sails, and we should absolutely NOT budge off of our current 7.5% demand over the same two years. The problem is that after a year of telling us the 5% we got this year was a RESTORATION, NOT A RAISE, SDEA leadership has changed their tune to the same song the district is singing: we just got a 5% raise, remember? That’s why SDEA already dropped its raise demand for this year down to 1.5%. I’m betting we absolutely are very likely to see something similar to UTLA… EXCEPT my guess is that our team will settle for something more like 1.5%/4%/reopener instead of UTLA’s 6%/4%/reopener.

What makes this even more likely is if you go back and reread the SDEA April 9th bargaining update. You’ll notice it says, “SDEA was clear to the District that for the union to consider a three year deal there would need to be an on schedule salary increase in 2014/15 (as opposed to an off schedule “bonus”) and the ability for a wage increase in the final year of 2016/17.” That’s code for reopener, not for a guaranteed bargained raise. During a reopener, the district can tell us to get bent, give us nothing, impose and we just have to take it because it is illegal to strike during a contract. Why would we give up our power to negotiate a raise in 2016-17 when we know that the district always says it doesn’t have money for educator raises? It might make sense for UTLA to take a third-year reopener when the first two years already locked a 10% raise. But if we get stuck with only 5.5% and a reopener, there’s a good chance that we’ll end up having that 5.5% be our only raise for the entire three years… during the best budget times the district has ever seen. Words like “travesty” and “screwed” wouldn’t even begin to cover it.

We’ve been giving SDEA President Lindsay Burningham a lot of room to win a good contract her way over this past year. I sure hope I’m wrong about what’s about to happen. We’ll know in the next few days.


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