Lakeside classified employees fight for collective bargaining rights
Around 150 people gathered in a peaceful protest held in front of the Lakeside Union School District Board of Education Office. Members of the California School Employees Association Lakeside #240, along with CSEA San Diego field representatives, teachers and parents took a stand against proposed changes in the CSEA proposed changes to the 2015-2016 school year contract. With around 300 classified employees in 10 schools, the District’s proposal has been on the negotiations table for 14 sessions, something that Joni Collins, Labor Relations Representative, CSEA Field Office, said was unprecedented, with previous negotiations only taking about four days to complete.
Gustavo Padilla, LLR, CSEA San Diego Field Office said he hoped that the protest sent a message to the school board that there is a process in place in order to have a healthy, collaborative relationship between the District and the Unions. Padilla said the last proposal on Oct. 26 threw a curve ball to all the classified employees.
In this version of the package proposal, the District gave negotiators 24 hours to make a final decision on the proposal, but pulled out negotiators after an hour and declared an impasse. Although the proposal included a 3 percent raise on and 3 percent off salary schedule, Padilla said the rights of the CSEA collective bargaining were stricken from the proposal.
“Classified employees spend a lot of their own time to make this system work to work better with the district,” he said. “We’ve done everything right. We’ve been open and collaborative and at this point, it sent the wrong message. It shows no respect for what the classified employees do for the kids. They are inside the classroom, they feed and drive the kids, clean the campuses and keep them safe—all to give them a good educational environment.”
Collins said she believed the added increase in pay, along with the 24-hour notice was the District’s “was just another way to just get us to sign the agreement.”
She said it is not an economic issue, but rather a rights issue.
“It’s giving up our mandatory central bargaining and we can’t do that,” said Collins. “The District sent out immediately that we rejected it and the District declared impasse. The District didn’t tell the facts in saying we rejected the proposal over the money, which is not the issue.”
Leticia Munguia, CSEA Field Director said it is absolutely critical that it supports its local members who have been at the negotiation table working to secure a contract.
“We have had numerous months of bargaining with the District and all we want is a fair contract that protects our workers,” she said. “We’ve been at the table and there’s been very little movement. A lot of the proposals we are seeing have a high value of waivers of the law, and that is an extreme concern. We are talking about the California Education Code that provides us with the basic guarantee of our rights for our members and what we are seeing coming across the table, our rights are being removed from our contract and that is something that we will not stand for.”
Munguia said it removes classified employees out of hiring panels, which it has always been a voice in the decision making process.
“They are trying to strip our voice away, remove our right to have a say in where we go if there is a layoff,” she said. “We don’t get to choose where we are placed, what site we work at and that can impact the community of the school sites. You have to make sure that when you are working with our principals and our students that the right staffing matches our student population. We are just saying to the school board and Superintendent Dr. David Lorden to just do the right thing. Just make the contract fair.”
Munguia sad the District has always been fair, until the last 16 months, which have been the most difficult bargaining in its history in Lakeside.
“The superintendent is new. He’s been here a little less than 18 months,” she said. “I think it is notable that the change in leadership starts at the top with the superintendent. We are here tonight to remind the school board that they have the voice and ability to change and provide direction to the superintendent to direct his team back to the table with a reasonable and fair proposal. This is not about economics. It’s about rights. We just want to get back to taking care of our children, that’s really what’s most important.
In the current package proposal much of the collective bargaining rights are not reworded, but completely scratched off. These changes take away exclusive rights to transfer work outside the bargaining unit, determine job descriptions, positions, salary schedule, hire assign, demote, evaluate and layoff at will. It takes away CSEA rights to negotiate the impact and effects of layoffs, removes the interview process for new positions and representation on any existing panel, the right to abolish existing positions or appeal requests for reclassification and takes away rights to a s alary increase if reclassified and the right to remain in a position that is reclassified.
Collins said one of her biggest concerns over the past 18 months is after doing an analysis on the board packets, seeing the increase and amount of dependency by law firms.
“The District has taken is a new approach under this superintendent, which includes redirecting funds from children and investing them in a law firm,” she said. “The money could be spent in a more consciences way.”
With no standing room in the boardroom, Collins said the District allowed five people to speak before going into closed session. Collins and Munguia spoke along with Lakeside Chapter President Teri Cook, pleading for the District to come back to the negotiation table with a fair agreement. After closed session, the District said that negotiations were no longer at an impasse and that negotiations will continue Nov. 18.