California Educator

February/March 2024

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" E V E R Y T H I N G C H A N G E D in this bargaining campaign," says paraeducator Teanna Tillery. "It was exciting to be on a big bargaining team that had all our voices from different sites. We all truly felt like we were part of the process, and it made a difference." When United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) went into contract negotiations last March, leaders knew they wanted to bring an expanded bargaining team to the table to include all the large local's voices. But they were unaware just how much that would change their understanding of each other, alter their approach for the bargain and build power as a union. UESF is one of the larger locals in CTA, representing a wide array of staff in San Francisco Unified School District, including credentialed educators, education support professionals (ESPs) and substitute teachers. In all, UESF represents about 5,000 cre- dentialed and 1,500 classified members. After bargaining in 2020 with a team of 25, UESF leaders wanted to expand even larger to create a team where all members felt their voices and needs were at the table. UESF President Cassondra Curiel says expanding the bargain- ing team to 65 was a deliberate decision rooted in equity to build a foundation of solidarity and accomplish their shared goals. "It wasn't just having 65 people on the team, there was inten- tion," Curiel says. "It represented a lot of places and spaces." The big number had its challenges. "It was a relief to have many hands making light work. More voices and shared deci- sion-making were huge, but also hard sometimes," says UESF Executive Board member Darcie Chan-Blackburn. UESF Bargaining Team Coordinating Committee members (from left) Teanna Tillery, paraeducator, UESF Vice President, Paraeducators; Emily Patterson, special education content specialist; Cassondra Curiel, middle school language arts teacher, UESF President; Alex Schmaus, special education instructional aide, UESF Executive Board; Diana Mueller, special education paraeducator, UESF Executive Board; Jeffrey Finger, high school math teacher; Yajaira Cuapio, school social worker, UESF Executive Board; Anaia Gilliam, fourth-fifth grade teacher, UESF Executive Board; Tina Leung, bilingual speech language pathologist; and Maggie Furey, school social worker. EQUITY Me a n s E ve r y one The power of the Big Bargaining Team leads San Francisco educators to greater unity — and victory By Julian Peeples 30 Feature

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