President's Message May 2015

There is something about the end of the school year that causes us to both reflect about the past and think about what's over the horizon. Most of us are considering what went well this year, what could have gone better, and we begin to think about what changes we might make for next school year. As SEA president I am going through the same thing.

As I come to the end of my first term as president, I've been thinking of everything we've gone through over the last two years:

    • A superintendent that unilaterally lowered the district's contribution to our health benefits.
    • Two major arbitrations.
    • A school board with four of five members indicted.
    • Contract negotiations that forced us to declare impasse.
    • Major legal victories with PERB.
    • A strike authorization vote
    • The county taking over our school board
    • A school board election where we took on the task of endorsing and supporting a campaign for 5 candidates including daily phone banking, mail and precinct walking.
    • Three interim superintendents.

That list doesn't even include the more "regular" issues of dealing with grievances, difficult principals, and a district that seems to have forgotten about progressive discipline in many cases!  I still haven't quite decided if these are the fastest two years of my life, or if they have been the longest.

 The work we've done over the last two years has been recognized by CTA. SEA has been awarded the CTA Joyce Fadem Award for Local in Politics and has also been recognized by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council as Union of the Year. The Labor Council is a union of unions representing almost 140 local unions with a membership of more than 250,000 union members. Its important that we celebrate these accomplishments, but it's also important that we don't lose sight that there is much to do.

In the coming weeks and months we will be dealing locally with contract negotiations for salary and benefits for the 15-16 school year. In February of 2016, we will sunshine our proposal for our next contract negotiation. We are expecting a new superintendent sometime this summer, and we will continue tackling issues like the culture of toxic high stakes testing that must come to an end. On a broader scale you will probably be hearing a lot about the Friedrichs vs. CTA case which may be taken up by the Supreme Court for their next session. This case threatens our ability to collect fair share dues from members who choose to benefit from bargaining and contract protection but not join the union. This is just the latest in a long line of court cases that organizations that have failed to weaken unions at the ballot box are pursuing.

Before I close, I want to thank Colleen Cooke-Salas for her work as the Grievance Chair during her term as Vice-President. She has been a tireless worker on behalf of our members. Although Colleen decided to not run again for V.P. she will continue to be involved in the grievance committee. She's already working hard to bring our Vice-President Elect, Helen Farias up to speed.

 As we celebrate our past victories and prepare for future battles, I want to thank you for all the hard work you do for students; we want to protect and deliver on the promise of a great public education for all.

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