California Educator

September 2013

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Advocacy Bargaining Alview-Dairyland teachers now bargain from a place of strength BY DINA MARTIN T H E 1 7 M E M B E R S of Alview-Dairyland Teachers Association in Chowchilla proved to be a scrappy bunch when they united to settle their contract. During 11 months of negotiations, the association obtained an agreement and won an unfair labor practice charge against the district, forcing the superintendent to leave her job, and galvanizing parent and community support. The settlement was achieved following a tumultuous year in which the district proposed to cut student sports, the GATE program, student council, the yearbook, a pentathlon, and speech and essay competitions, all in addition to capping teachers' health insurance costs. "This was really hard to take," says Christine Cook, negotiations chair. "We have some of the highest test scores in Madera County, but we are at the bottom of the pay scale compared to other districts. Our district maintained a reserve of 38 to 40 percent!" Plus, two teachers were handed their pink slips during their duty-free lunch period in front of their colleagues — an uncomfortable situation all around. Frustrated with the lack of communication and inappropriate conduct exhibited, teachers filed an unfair labor practice charging bad faith bargaining. The case was settled when the superinten- (Left to right) Alview-Dairyland Teachers Association President Jennifer Paine, Bargaining Chair Christine Cook and active members Patricia Robbins and Ron Martin are all smiles after reaching a contract settlement. dent wrote a letter apologizing for her behavior and promised to participate in training on bargaining. Since then, the superintendent resigned and is back in the classroom. Shortly after, the chapter reached a contract settlement that prevented concessions and provided $800 off the salary schedule to cover insurance costs. Through this, they learned to stand up for one another, says Cook. "We learned getting parents involved positively impacts teachers, and teachers wearing stickers and being willing to speak up at a board meeting sends a strong message to our school board and our administration." Chapter president Jennifer Paine agreed. "It's already made us stronger, and now we're starting from a place of strength as we begin bargaining a successor contract." San Diego teachers get BTSA fees refunded I N A B I G W I N for hundreds of San Diego Education Association members, the San Diego Unified School District must repay all impacted teachers their Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) fees in full, totaling more than $400,000 in payouts. The settlement requires that the BTSA program continue, with no fees attached. Before implementing any changes, the district must provide SDEA notice in advance and must honor SDEA's legal right to bargain future changes to the program. The district notified no one of the decision to charge fees for the previously free program. It was teacher members who notified SDEA leaders, who realized the district violated the law. "I hope this will help inspire other new union members to be informed, ask questions and get involved, because that is how our union gets even stronger and more effective," says SDEA President Bill Freeman. The settlement resolves an unfair labor practice charge SDEA filed with the Public Employment Relations Board over the district's decision to start charging new teachers for the BTSA program. The district implemented the new fees without first notifying the association or honoring the association's right to bargain such changes. Since then, the district "noticed" its intent to charge BTSA participants for 2013-14, in violation of the settlement agreement. Members mobilized, speaking at a June board meeting and contacting the superintendent, and pressured the district to continue fully funding BTSA for CTA members. 38 Educator 09 Sep 2013 v3.6 int.indd 38 BY BILL GUY Go Online Brentwood Teachers Association is seeking its first-ever contract as a CTA affiliate. Oakland, Alvord, Moreno Valley, Stockton, Auburn and Placerville contract gains include student days and salary hikes. These stories and more! S E P T E M B E R 2013 9/3/13 2:26 PM

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