Teachers Union Votes to Talk – Voice of San Diego: Education
In a decision that I expected, and put up on this blog several times, the inevitable finally happened. The SDEA finally agreed to open up the teacher contract for negotiations. This is a smart move in my opinion as 1,500 or so teachers have received pink slips. It needed to be done, it had to be done, I am surprised it took this long for it to get done.
I have a lot of veteran teacher friends who will NOT be happy with this decision, but I think deep down they might know that giving up planned raises, and not extending out more furlough days in order to keep good teachers in the classroom educating kids is the best move. SDUSD is bone dry with funds…there is no gas in the tank and money won’t be coming in from the state anytime soon.
The San Diego Education Association, the union that represents local teachers, has voted to start “limited negotiations” with the San Diego Unified School District over possible concessions on salaries in order to save teachers from layoffs.
With the district facing an estimated $120 million budget shortfall next year, the school board has been calling on the union to meet and discuss possible concessions in order to avoid crippling layoffs. Last week, one in every five teachers in the district received final layoff notices.
An SDEA press release issued today, quoted teachers union president Bill Freeman:
“With a clearer picture of San Diego Unified School District’s budget, the elected San Diego Education Association board voted last night to authorize limited negotiations with the District in an effort to stop layoffs, defend classrooms and protect our profession.”
“The elected leaders of SDEA believe this is the right way to proceed based on a recent analysis of the District’s budget conducted by a team of SDEA members and California Teachers Association budget analysts. Unlike past years, the economic challenges facing the District and the state have not improved.”
The move marks a significant change in tone for the union.
For months, the SDEA has been saying that the district’s budget problems shouldn’t be fixed on the back of teachers. The union has argued that the district is not being honest about its budget deficit, and has said it would not negotiate until the state finalizes its budget in the summer.
But with the layoff notices going out, the pressure has steadily ramped up on the union. Last month, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the region’s most powerful labor organization, called on the union to sit down with the district. That call was echoed in aneditorial this week by San Diego City Beat, the left-leaning weekly magazine.
The union signaled last week that it was both surveying members on the issue and asking financial experts from the union’s state affiliate to pore through the district’s budget to see if the dire deficit predictions are legitimate.
In a letter to SDEA members, Freeman was clear that the scope of the negotiations will be limited. He wrote:
The fact is that we can bargain over limited issues without jeopardizing important contractual provisions such as our healthcare. That is because we will only enter into discussions with the District after they agree to clear ground rules that limit the scope of our discussions, protect provisions such as family health care and ensure that if we do not reach an acceptable agreement everything will revert back to the current status.
The letter was signed by the members of the SDEA board.
If I hear anything coming out of these negotiations, I’ll post an update.