Strategy and Analysis to Defend and Transform Public Education
The following perspective was posted by Ana Ferrús-García a teacher at Manzanita SEED on the OEA-schools-working-to-rule list on May 17, 2015.
(I would like to emphasize that the following comments represent my personal opinion, as an OEA member, not my “official position” on the TA as Election Committee Chair–And my apologies for the long email….)
According to OEA leadership “Everything is coming up roses” regarding this proposed TA.
I have to respond, respectfully, “Not from where I am standing”
The proposed TA offers teachers a 2.5% contingency-free raise above what the district proposed last (4%). That 2.5% amounts to $95 more/month for me, a 10-yr veteran. The total raise amount is more, of course, but I look at bargaining in terms of what I’ve gained (the difference between the district’s proposal and the final settlement) vs. the cost (in terms of contract rights- I am not even talking about 3 months of W2R, board meetings, house meetings…etc.) And to me, the loss/exchange for those $95 month is the support the union offered, until now, to all those teachers consolidated due to lower enrollment. Consolidation is already very stressful: I can’t imagine being forced to leave your teaching and school community and “try your luck” elsewhere. To that, the new TA is adding the stress brought by the uncertainty of whether the teachers at the potential “receiving” sites would think that you are “worthy” of joining their staff. And because teaching is stressful enough, I can’t imagine most teachers compromising their mental health further by pushing their way into a site that doesn’t want them by “exerting his/her seniority rights.” So then, in the absence of a “match,” a consolidated teacher would need to face the uncertainty of what he or she will end up doing for a year. Contrary to what some have advanced, I doubt the district is setting aside cushy jobs for these, sorry for the term, “rejects” in their view. LCI has been extensively restructured this year (good bye curriculum development jobs,) and I don’t know of any sites that currently employ full-time intervention teachers, so I really wonder what would be available for those consolidated teachers.
The bargaining team has said that they took into account the rights of the receiving teachers when making these concessions. As a teacher who works at a site exempt from article 12 (via MOU) I can say with confidence that the ability to choose incoming teachers has not improved my working conditions. Why? Because for the last 3 years 50% of the new hires have left due to low salary, intense working conditions or other reasons. In addition, the factors I see negatively impacting my working conditions are (I am sure these are common in many sites):
As far as I now, none of the above conditions are addressed in the TA.
So, given the fact that an additional $95 will not make a dent in my retirement savings (especially as we will need to contribute more to STRS in the coming years) or my daughter’s college savings nor will they help my junior colleagues afford their rent or settle by buying a house in Oakland, I don’t think that the additional compensation was a fair exchange for what it will mean to consolidated teachers in the future. I will gladly give the 95$ back in exchange for their (better) peace of mind.
For these reasons I will vote NO on this TA.
Ana Ferrús-García/Manzanita SEED