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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | U.S. | Education & Student Activism | Labor & Workers
“No!” means “No!” EDU response to Tentative Agreement
Workers Action Introduction
The following statement was produced by Educators for a Democratic Union (EDU), a progressive caucus in the San Francisco teachers union, United Educators of San Francisco (UESF).
After enumerating a series of concessions recently negotiated by UESF in bargaining a tentative agreement, the EDU caucus statement correctly urges all UESF members to vote NO on the tentative agreement. In the wake of almost all unions accepting concessions without a struggle, the following statement presents an inspiring counterexample to this trend.
As is typical across the country, state and local funding for education has been reduced, and administrations are implementing cuts and demanding concessions from teachers. Meanwhile budget deficits are depicted as if they were acts of god, entirely out of the control of humans.
In reality, however, the situation is quite different thanks to endemic political corruption. For example, in 2011 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors awarded Twitter a $22 million tax break over a period of six years. Then the Board outdid itself in corporate largess by awarding Zynga a tax break that was worth “$30 million to $50 million in local taxes in the first year alone…” (The New York Times, “Lobbyists Play Outsize Role as Political Fund-Raisers in San Francisco, June 12, 2011).
How do these quite profitable corporations fare so well while education is slashed and hacked to pieces, and the public good is desecrated? The lobbyists for these corporations help almost all the members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, including the most progressive member, John Avalos, raise money for their election campaigns (see The New York Times, “Lobbyists Play Outsize Role as Political Fund-Raisers in San Francisco, June 12, 2011).
Given that taxes on the rich and corporate taxes have been steadily declining for the past three decades on federal, state and local levels, leaving public education and social services with insufficient funds, one can only applaud EDU for demanding full funding for public education and social services by raising taxes on the rich.
For more information on the Educators for a Democratic Union, go to their website at Educators for a Democratic Union
“NO!” means “NO!” EDU response to Tentative Agreement
On May 10th, 2012, 1900 UESF members voted to set a second strike vote date to reject ANY and ALL layoffs, furloughs, class size increases, and dizzying array of cuts proposed by the district. We demanded the district use up $75 million in restricted and unrestricted reserves to defend our jobs and schools, not dismantle them.
Now the UESF Executive Board recommends passing a Tentative Agreement that not only gives in on virtually every single demand of the district, but also wholly ignores the willingness of our members to fight back.
So what does SFUSD get in this agreement?
Furloughs? Yep. 3 over the course of 2 years (although they limit impact on the classroom) and an agreement to up to a whopping 6.5 furlough days this year and 10 days next year if Proposition 30 does not pass.
Class size increases? Check. Special Ed. classes will see increases and reduced protections for keeping class size small. Class size limits are being removed from our contract for grades 3 & above, deferring instead to limits set by the State. The same State that voted to reduce the minimum number of school days from 181 to 160 to allow more furlough days. No thanks!
Layoffs? Yep. Layoffs have been reduced for half the certificated teachers over the summer, but classifieds have gotten nothing here. And now this Tentative Agreement assures job losses for pre-K Early Childhood Development (EED) based on employees’ hours being consolidated to 7.5 per day.
Dismantling of EED and privatization? Yes. EED pre-K employees will have their work year cut from 219 to 191 days with a pay cut of about $3000 per year. SFUSD has made it clear that pre-K students will likely still be going to school in the summer, but that the work will probably be done by employees outside of UESF.
Process? Horrible! The UESF Bargaining Team essentially went into secret negotiations over the summer and now, having just revealed the contents of this agreement there is a rush to ratify by the 1st day of school. This provides NO time for the deliberation we need to consider the impact on our work, our students and our schools.
How should we respond? • Vote NO! on this contract and urge all your colleagues to do the same. • Attend membership meetings on Aug. 14th or 15th and demand that UESF: • return to the bargaining table and demand SFUSD bargain in the open. • set a second strike vote date in September and begin preparations for a strike, NOW!
UESF members held strong and said “NO!” to cuts before, we can do it again. Tell SFUSD and our Bargaining Team (who seem to have forgotten)…” No means No.”