Which Side Are They On?

Remember when SDEA used to make the union’s argument to the district, rather than working overtime to make the district’s arguments to us? We barely remember it either, and you’re sure not going to see any of it this week.

Several people have forwarded us an email full of talking points that sound like they could have come right out of the district’s PR department. The email is signed by SDEA President Lindsay Burningham, but is NOT sent out as an official SDEA email. In it, Burningham writes, “I believe that we are all entitled to our opinions but not our own set of facts,” and then goes on to do a hard-sell of the TA. Well, apparently Burningham gets two sets of facts: The ones that SDEA itself published in a PowerPoint on April 8 picking apart these same arguments back when the district was making them, and the ones Burningham is selectively choosing now to argue that no matter WHAT you read in the news, the district budget STILL hasn’t gotten good enough to support a decent raise and lower class sizes for all students.

Burningham’s email tells us not to get too excited about the $58M in one-time money coming in unexpectedly in the May Revise. But all year, SDEA Executive Director Tim Hill has done an excellent job of teaching us that when the district gets “one-time money” it frees up general fund money to use on our Fight For 5 priorities. So when did that stop being true…?

Burningham’s email also tells us that the bargaining team was “already anticipating” $99 million in new money in the May Revise. But look at SDEA’s April 8 PowerPoint! SDEA was predicting that SDUSD would get $54 million next year, not $99 million. Burningham should go back and read her own material.

Besides, sentences later Burningham writes that the May Revise is “just a proposal” and not something we should be banking on. Well, which is it? Did our bargaining team convince the district to share their crystal ball during mediation, or did our bargaining team cut a deal that wasn’t based on these numbers because they’re not real yet? They can’t both be true.

Plus, take a look at everything CTA is putting out post May Revise. We seem to be the only union that isn’t happily shocked by the huge increase provided by the May Revise. Yes, everyone in the state heard the budget was going to come in better than expected, but it wasn’t until May 5 that California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins announced that the state’s budget surplus had climbed to $8 billion, setting the stage for Gov. Brown’s massive spikes to education funding in the May Revise. SDEA cut this mediocre deal on April 30. And remember, Hill and Burningham have said all year that the district could afford a 10% pay increase over this year and next. So what happened? According to SDEA, now that the district is receiving WAY more money than expected, they can only just afford 5% over two years?

The worst, though, is that Burningham writes, “Any additional new money will help pay down the District’s structural deficit of $30 million dollars.” Wow! Thanks! Now our employer can show up at the reopener bargaining table next spring with our own union president’s email and use it to argue they have less money for our 2016-17 raise. Never mind the fact that SDEA’s own April 8 PowerPoint stated, “SDUSD has deficit spent by expending more than received for five of the past six years, but has never had a deficit [emphasis in original].” When our union president is sending out an email essentially making every argument, in writing, that our employer is going to use against us in a year during our reopener bargaining, we have a real problem! It’s seriously getting hard to tell who is on which side.

Burningham is NOT responsibly arming us with “facts” in her email. She is selectively and intentionally making arguments to convince us to be happy with a mediocre contract that looks much worse in the light of the unexpected May Revise. These are the arguments we should be expecting from our bosses, not from our own union leadership.

But hey. We can play the random fact game too.

Random fact: One of the SDUSD classified bargaining units didn’t ratify their TA last year. Their members voted it down because it wasn’t good enough. Now, a year later, they just settled their contract again. Despite what SDEA’s current fear mongering would have us believe, SDUSD did NOT refuse to come back to the table, and the classified members did NOT have to strike to get a new contract. They simply voted no, sent their team back to the table to bargain harder, and got a better deal.

Let’s see SDEA staff and Burningham explain that away. We’re sure they’ll get right on it. No, seriously, they will.

Bottom line, rushing to impasse and then settling a TA before the May Revise came out has left many people in our union and in unions around the state scratching their heads and questioning our strategy. If anyone can explain how following this timeline has worked to benefit our members, we would love to hear it.

This is a bad deal for us and it’s a bad deal for our students. It was a bad deal before, and in light of the May Revise, it’s even worse. The solution is to vote NO, and send our bargaining team back to the table to actually FIGHT for 5.

Please forward far and wide!



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