California Educator

June/July 2020

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he Marysville Unified Teachers Association (MUTA) bargaining team entered negotiations in March absolutely unified in the demand that their students be held harmless from any impacts of COVID-19, receiving grades no lower than what they had earned before schools abruptly shuttered. "I've been heavily involved in my local union for years, but the passion we felt to protect our students was unlike anything I've ever experi- enced at the table," says Angela Stegall, president of MUTA. " We let the district know this ' hold harmless' aspect of our proposed agreement was nonnegotiable, and it's now in our memorandum of understanding (MOU)." CTA locals across the state initiated nego- tiations with their school districts to protect e d u c a t o r s a n d stu d e n t s w h e n t h e C OV I D - 1 9 p a n d e m i c c h a n g e d t e a c h i n g a n d l e a r n i n g c o n d i t i o n s o v e r n i g h t . Bargaining teams met virtually with district administrators to work toward MOUs that set parameters and expectations for the remainder of the school year — all while educators worked to meet the new and changing demands of teaching, dealt with their own COVID-related issues and trauma, helped their children enter the world of distance learning, and cared for family members vulnerable to the virus. "On top of those issues, we also had the added stress of having to deal with the district drag- ging their feet when we were trying to mutually agree on an MOU for distance learning," says Alex Vogel, bargaining chair of Whittier Elemen- tar y Teachers Association (WETA). " We were able to negotiate teacher flexibility and freedom on instruction delivery, and instructional time flexibility based on teacher knowledge and stu- dents' capabilities. We were also able to negotiate language for all members, including special educators, TOSAs, school Alex Vogel T Bargaining During COVID-19 CTA locals focus on safety, students and equity By Julian Peeples Chris Montgomery / Unsplash 36 feature C O V I D - 1 9

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