Monday, March 29, 2010

It’s not a game

Darren over at Right on the Left Coast (blogroll) posted this news story from the Sacramento Bee before I did.  I’ll just take his post because it pretty much sums up the issue.

In the zero-sum game of school district budgets, there's only so much money to go around. If a district's budget is slashed, cuts have to be made somewhere. Should there be pay cuts? Should employees work for free a few days? Should there be furlough days? Should health insurance plans be restructured, perhaps by increasing co-payments? How about layoffs?
The teachers in the Sacramento City Unified School District don't want to bargain any of these things until next summer, when their contract runs out. Correction, the Sac City union doesn't want to bargain any of these things until next summer, when their contract runs out.

(Quoting the Sacramento Bee)

“Dozens of teachers expressed to the (Sacramento) Bee a willingness to accept furlough days and/or higher co-pays but feel their union leadership is ignoring their pleas to save jobs.
While those teachers talked passionately about this issue, nearly all shied away from having their name printed. They said they feared retribution from the union should they need representation...
Non-tenured, young teachers are typically the ones most affected by layoffs because seniority rules dictate pink slips...
With so many teachers saying they're willing to accept concessions, (pink-slipped teacher) Taylor wonders why the union isn't listening to its members.
"It feels like the union only speaks for the people who aren't going to be affected by layoffs, the people who have been teaching 25 years," Taylor said. "There seems to be a real division in the union between the teachers who have been teaching a long time and those who are new."

Our union has acted in similar fashion, acting on a memorandum from the California Teacher’s Association that told the local units that they would gain no benefit from negotiating.  Some local units have now waited to Zero Hour and the choices look pretty ugly.  I haven’t heard how David Sanchez is going to explain his way out of this one.   

At Ukiah High School, many teachers have discussed furloughs not for months, but for over a year.  We have young, energetic staff members that are not only popular with students, but get results.  Hell, they are damn good for this community, not just the school.  In the eyes of many high school teachers, you take the damage as a collective because the students retain those good teachers and we power on through this crisis as a resilient institution.  But this political game that is played by our Union Executive Board has pretty much shown their real motive; entrench their own position, enjoy the drunk feeling of being “empowered”, and ignore the needs that are important to students.  The high school actually voted for our union to consider furloughs for this year, so that next year’s cuts are not as bad.   You know what happened?  No vote, no discussion.  They acted like the Iranian president and snuffed out the concerns of some 70 staff members in under 30 seconds.  It was sick.  Know what’s happening now?  Neither do I.  All I know is that I hear those same members asking for no pay cuts, no staff cuts, no increase in health fees, no increase in work day, no furloughs, and no end to class size reduction.  How do we make our budget manageable?  Our union doesn’t have a clue or a care.

They just enjoy the game.        

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