ADTA leaders Jennifer Paine, Christine Cook, Patricia Robbins, Ron Martin
Alview-Dairyland teachers bargain from strength
By Dina Martin
The 15 members of tiny Alview-Dairyland Teachers Association in Chowchilla proved to be a determined bunch when they united this spring to reach a contract settlement with the school district.
During 11-months of negotiations, the association not only obtained an agreement, they won an unfair labor practice charge against the district, prompted the eventual resignation of the superintendent, and galvanized parent and community support.
The settlement was achieved following a tumultuous year in which the district had proposed to cut student sports, the GATE program, student council, yearbook, the Pentathlon, and speech and essay competitions, all in addition to capping teachers’ health insurance costs.
“This was difficult to take,” said Christine Cook, negotiations chair. “We have some of the highest test scores in Madera County, but we are at the bottom of the pay scale compared to other districts. In addition, our district maintained a reserve that ranged from 38 to 40 percent!”
Adding to that, two teachers were put in the agonizing position of being told during their duty-free lunch period and in front of their colleagues that they would be receiving their pink slips – an uncomfortable situation all around.
Aside from the lack of communication and inappropriate conduct exhibited, the superintendent was later the subject of an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by the teachers for not bargaining in good faith. The case was settled once the superintendent wrote a letter of apology for her behavior and promised to participate in a training on bargaining. Since that time, the superintendent has resigned and was placed back in the classroom.
Shortly after, the chapter reached a contract settlement that prevented concessions and provided $800 off the salary schedule to cover insurance costs.
In the process, there were lessons learned, according to Cook.
“We learned getting parents involved has a positive effect in favor of the teachers, and doing little things like wearing stickers to show support and the willingness of every teacher to speak up at a board meeting sends a strong message to our school board and our administration.”
Beyond that, they learned to stand up for one another.
As chapter president Jennifer Paine said, “Our hope is that the strength, unity, and support we have gained from this process will also continue on as we begin bargaining a successor contract this month.”
Ably assisting the chapter were CTA staffers Lisa Edelheit and Caryn Coss.
San Diego teachers get BTSA fees refunded
By Bill Guy
In a big win for hundreds of San Diego Education Association members, the San Diego Unified School District must repay all impacted teachers their Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) fees in full, totaling more than $400,000 in payouts. The settlement requires that the BTSA program continue, with no fees attached. Before implementing any changes, the district must provide SDEA notice in advance and must honor SDEA’s legal right to bargain future changes to the program.
The district notified no one of the decision to charge fees for the previously free program. It was teacher members who notified SDEA leaders, who realized the district violated the law.
“I hope this will help inspire other new union members to be informed, ask questions and get involved, because that is how our union gets even stronger and more effective,” says SDEA President Bill Freeman.
The settlement resolves an unfair labor practice charge SDEA filed with the Public Employment Relations Board over the district’s decision to start charging new teachers for the BTSA program. The district implemented the new fees without first notifying the association or honoring the association’s right to bargain such changes.
Since then, the district “noticed” its intent to charge BTSA participants for 2013-14, in violation of the settlement agreement. Members mobilized, speaking at a June board meeting and contacting the superintendent, and pressured the district to continue fully funding BTSA for CTA members.