Teachers in San Diego Unified, as well as my friends from all over the state, have all been asking me what the hell is going on in San Diego. I’ve also been trying to figure out what the hell is going on and have narrowed it down to three possible scenarios.
Currently, there are two things happening that we all need to realize are really the same thing: we are bargaining our contract so the district has laid off almost 1,000 people as a bargaining tactic. In 2012, SDEA leadership taught the district that this is an effective bargaining tactic to use against our union, when they issued a similar amount of layoff notices and so then President Bill Freeman and Vice President Elect Lindsay Burningham took our union back to the bargaining table to give away bargained raises in exchange for undoing layoffs. We know that these layoffs and our bargaining go hand-in-hand and are the same thing. We have a choice in how to respond. And I foresee three possible paths.
First, we could in a panic like in 2012 rush to the bargaining table and cut some terrible deal in order to save jobs. I think that’s what our district wants us to do, and quite frankly I’m more than a little concerned that our union will once again take the bait. We absolutely have to remember the lesson we learned in 2012, when SDUSD once again ended up with millions more in the bank than they pretended they would have when we gave away our raises. We absolutely cannot negotiate while layoffs are still being used as a bargaining chip, because it guarantees it will be used as a bargaining chip forever. We cannot normalize this behavior in our relationship with the district.
Another option that we have is to let the layoffs and recalls play out as they most probably will to some degree, and continue bargaining our contract and not get distracted by this layoff tactic. I’m not a fan of this UNLESS it is coupled with direct action pressure placed on school board members at their homes and places of business. We know from our long history with the district’s unnecessary layoffs that most, if not all, of these layoffs will be recalled one way or the other. Between the SERP and the yet to be finalized state budget, the district won’t have the teachers it needs to open schools unless they undo the layoffs, and they know it.
The final way that these things could play out is for our union to place enough pressure on the school board members to rescind the layoffs now while we are still bargaining our contract. When I explain what is happening to my CTA friends around the state, they all agree that the district’s justification for laying off this many people when we clearly are not experiencing any kind of new financial crisis is decidedly laughable to say the least. No other districts in California are doing this! If anything the school board should be laying off and firing the entire financial department including the superintendent who allegedly have so poorly mismanaged funds that their incompetence has resulted in a dramatic need for a reduction in force.
The good news is that a strong contingent of Breakfast Clubbers (and yes, we’re still around) worked together at last week’s SDEA Rep. Council to pass several motions that will make sure SDEA places a lot more pressure on school board members. Even though SDEA did not pass our most aggressive motion, which was to visit the neighborhoods and workplaces of our school board members to make sure their associates and neighbors know what they’re needlessly doing to nearly 1,000 educators, I know there are a lot of us still very interested in doing these things. And the bottom line is we are SDEA and we do not need permission to organize. Please email us at email@example.com if you would like to spend a few hours of your upcoming Spring Break visiting a school board member’s neighborhood, place of work, or other meeting the Board member may attend.
There will be a Board meeting THIS TUESDAY, March 14th!