Tuesday, July 3, 2018

ABCFT - Week in Review - July 3, 2018

ABCFT - Week in Review - July 3, 2018

In case you’ve missed previous Weeks in Review, you can find all of them here: ABCTeachernews To find previous editions, just click on “Blog Archive” which is the menu on the right and click on the specific week.

(ABC Federation of Teachers)

In Unity
ABC Federation of Teachers
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  PRESIDENT’S REPORT - Ray Gaer video profile here
Over this past week I attended/worked with unit members in representations, contract resolutions, email/text/phone call questions, site concerns, and mediations.
A happy Summer and Fourth of July to everyone! I hope that many of you are living it up and relaxing like “normal” people do throughout the year. Teachers work so hard throughout the year we often forget how to relax so this is a good time to find your bliss.

I didn’t plan on sending anything out during the Summer but there’s been so much happening I thought I’d at least give some brief notes on happenings and I’d include some of the major newsworthy stories at the bottom for those who are interested. For example, the 35k teachers of UTLA the second biggest district in the country just asked for a state appointed mediator for their negotiations as they deadlocked after a year of negotiations. This situation is interesting to watch because that district currently has lifetime health benefits for retirees and declining enrollment like most districts in California so something has to give.

Anyway, during the Summer we try to catch up on things at the ABCFT Union Hall as we continue to get ready for next school year.  Right now we are updating our records with all the membership forms that all of you re-signed those last couple of weeks before school got out. Your continued support for ABCFT is appreciated and we hope to continue to bring you the services you expect from your YOUnion. A special thanks to all those members who have elected to give money to the ABCFT COPE fund which is our political fund that we use only for local school board elections. All ABCFT COPE money is kept local and not used for State or National political campaigns. ABCFT has always had the guiding principle that school board elections matter and have a significant impact on the lives and pay of teachers and nurse. It is in our (teachers/nurses) personal interest to have a powerful political voice in school board elections.

For those of you following the Janus decision late last month and are wondering how that impacts ABCFT here is an update. Current membership for a ABCFT is at 97%  and financially we are still able to maintain two full time employees including myself to service the union needs of enforcement, representation, and bargaining. For transparency I want you to know that Membership Coordinator, Tanya Golden and I are paid the same as all teachers in ABC with the ABCFT/ABCUSD salary schedule.  Moreover, ABCFT has just signed a new five year lease at the current union office facility but we downsized our occupancy so that we are only in half of the building which will cut the ABCFT financial overhead. The Union Hall has three offices (presidents, treasurer, retiree chapter), a small conference room and a storage area.  Over the last year, the ABCFT Executive Board has worked hard to cut more than 10% from our local operating budget. Just as a point of reference, ABCFT has not increase local dues for members since 2007 and we do our best to make sure that all local dues are used with the goal of enhancing salaries, and benefits plus also focusing on teaching and working conditions.

In other news, ABCFT has been negotiating with ABCUSD on the working hours of Head Start teachers due to the situation of ABCUSD putting a grant proposition to the Los Angeles Department of Education for a full day Head Start which would start in the 2019-20 school year. We have worked closely this past year with Head Start teachers to understand their program and the impact a full day would have on their working conditions and pay.
During June 25-27, Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu and I attended the California Labor-Management Initiatives annual conference in San Diego. There were twenty six districts in attendance with about two hundred fifty attendees at this year's conference.  Dr. Sieu and I had the pleasure of being the opening speakers for the conference and later in the day hosted two breakout sessions which featured the labor management structures that ABCFT/ABCUSD have built over the past two decades. ABC continues to be the leading example of how labor management structures of a district can facilitate better working conditions and structures which in turn positively  impacts the students in the classrooms.

I hope that this short ABCFT Review helps to keep you informed about some of the things that are happening in ABC over the summer. Let me give a special recognition to all those teachers and nurses that are working during summer school this year.

In YOUnity,

Ray Gaer
President, ABCFT


Right-wing groups have been waging war against public sector unions for many years, and, last week, a divided 5–4 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed them a win in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. This case, which overrules decades of precedent, was about stripping unions of resources, with the ultimate aim of eradicating labor unions altogether. Why was this such a prized goal for these right-wing groups? Because unions help level the imbalance between the rich and powerful and everyone else, and help working people get ahead.


The Janus decision is an attack on our voice and on public education
This morning in a 5-4 ruling the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Mark Janus in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case. The ruling overturns decades of precedent and eliminates the ability of public sector unions to collect fair share, or agency fees.
While promoted as a case about the First Amendment rights of employees, the Janus case is a straightforward attempt by deep-pocketed interests, with the compliance of the Supreme Court, to limit the voice of educators and other public sector workers, with the ultimate goal of threatening our ability to advocate for the pay, benefits, and working conditions that we need to get our important work done.
By seeking to eliminate our ability to advocate for our jobs and our institutions, the case is also a direct threat to our public education system and the students and families that we serve. The decision also hurts the ability of the entire labor movement to defend vital social services such as Social Security and Medicare.
We will not let the Janus decision silence our voice
As a union of educators and dedicated workers at public schools and colleges, we know that sticking together is our best bet to ensure we have the pay and benefits that we need to serve our students well. We also know that sticking together is our best bet to win the policies and funding that truly support our public schools, colleges, students, and their families.
CFT members are are fiercely dedicated to our students and their families because we believe in the power and promise of public education to transform lives and to lift up communities. Regardless of what those behind the Janus case hope to accomplish, we know that our profession, our schools, our colleges, and students are worth fighting for.


  • Press Release

  • America Needs Unions Now More than Ever As Supreme Court Sides with Corporate Billionaires Rigging Economy against Workers

  • On heels of high profile walkouts, new organizing and spiking approval for unions, union leaders see decision as rallying point to unrig economy and put workers first

  • For Release:

  • Wednesday, June 27, 2018

  • WASHINGTON– The following statement was issued by leaders and members of AFSCME, AFT, NEA and SEIU following the decision by the United States Supreme Court to rule against working people and in favor of billionaire CEOs and corporate interests in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, holding that requiring fair-share fees in the public sector violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

  • As millions of American workers recommit to their unions and launch new organizing drives and as support for labor unions has risen to its highest level in years, it is shameful that the billionaire CEOs and corporate special interests behind this case have succeeded in manipulating the highest court in the land to do their bidding. This case was nothing more than a blatant political attack to further rig our economy and democracy against everyday Americans in favor of the wealthy and powerful.

  • Public service workers—teachers, social workers, firefighters, 911 operators—are more determined than ever to stick together in their unions. Unions remain the most effective vehicle for the power in numbers working people need to secure their rights and freedoms, and provide a pathway to the middle class. We will remain a strong and vibrant force for working people, and will continue fighting to sustain our families, improve our workplaces and to make our communities stronger regardless of the court’s ruling.  

  • Today’s decision sends our economy in the wrong direction. But it is also a rallying point. We call on elected leaders and candidates to do everything in their power to make it easier to unite in unions and build more power for all working people.

  • Union leader and member responses:

  • “Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack – designed to further rig the rules against working people -- nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don’t do this work to get rich. They do it because it’s a calling -- and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we’re going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country.” - Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

  • “No court case, win or lose, could ever change how important my work and service is to me and the community I care about. My union gives me the strength, freedom and the tools I need to help people and to provide for my family. That’s why I’ll always stick with my coworkers, no matter what. We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing: organizing and talking to coworkers and community members, building power for working people.” - Stephen Mittons, AFSCME Council 31 member, Child Protection Investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

  • “Don’t count us out. While today the thirst for power trumped the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them, workers are sticking with the union because unions are still the best vehicle working people have to get ahead.

  • “Strong unions create strong communities. We will continue fighting, caring, showing up and voting, to make possible what is impossible for individuals acting alone. The teacher walkouts this spring, with educators fighting for the funding children need, were an example of how we will continue to make that case—in the halls of statehouses and the court of public opinion, in our workplaces and communities, and at the ballot box in November—through organizing, activism and members recommitting to their union.

  • “This is a dark day in U.S. jurisprudence. Swung by a Trump-appointed justice with a long history of ruling for the wealthy and corporations over regular people, the Supreme Court overturned a 40-year unanimously decided precedent that has given teachers and firefighters, nurses and cops, a path to a better life for themselves and their communities.

  • “More than forty years ago, the court recognized that collective bargaining for teachers and other public sector workers benefits those workers, their employers and their communities. Union representation, if chosen by a majority, is the glue that holds us together. That wisdom has now been abandoned by the slimmest majority.

  • “The dissenting justices saw this case for what it really was—a warping and weaponizing of the First Amendment, absent any evidence or reason, to hurt working people. Not only was Abood well within the mainstream of First Amendment law, it has been affirmed six times and applied to other cases upholding bar fees for lawyers and student activity fees at public colleges.” -Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

  • “Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, the teachers in our district will stick together to make sure we have a say in the future of our kids. We are a small union in a rural and conservative part of Ohio. But nearly all of the teachers in our district are full dues-paying members—because we know that teachers’ ability to create a safe learning environment for kids and make teaching a viable profession comes directly from being part of a strong union.” - Holly Kimpon, a high school biology and anatomy teacher, AFT member and president of the Genoa Area Education Association in Ohio

  • “Today’s radical decision by the Supreme Court is a blatant slap in the face for educators, nurses, firefighters, police officers and all public servants who make our communities strong and safe. We are living in a system that is rigged to benefit special interests and billionaires, all at the expense of working people. Those behind this case know that unions amplify workers’ voices and transform their words into powerful and collective action. Even though the Supreme Court sided with corporate CEOs and billionaires over working Americans, unions will continue to be the best vehicle on the path to the middle class.” - Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association (NEA)

  • “Fine arts programs were being cut from my school and students were missing out on subjects like arts and music. My union negotiated with the district to bring back music so our students could have a well-rounded curriculum. When some school principals tried to renege on the agreement, as a union, we stepped up. Educators came together through our union and spoke out for what our kids need. Strong unions build strong schools and strong communities. We need unions now more than ever.” - Alex Price, band director and instrumental music teacher, Belmont High School and Wright Brothers Middle School in Dayton, Ohio

  • “This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won’t let the extremists behind this case divide us. We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions.”- Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU

  • “My coworkers and I are not going to let this court decision stop us from sticking together in our union. We know that we are stronger together, and that matters when we are working to ensure our community is resilient when faced with disasters like earthquakes or floods. We won’t let any court case, billionaire, or propaganda campaign divide us.” - Sara Campos, Department of Human Services, SEIU Local 503 in Salem, Oregon

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten

----- NATIONAL NEWS -----

U.S. teachers are underpaid, polls find
According to polls conducted by the New York Times, the Associated Press and NPR, the majority of Americans agree that educators don’t earn enough while two of the polls found that at least half of Americans said they would pay higher taxes to raise teacher salaries. The topic is receiving renewed attention after teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina walked out demanding higher salaries and more funding for their schools, some of which are starved for basic resources. According to a 2017 OECD report on education around the world, U.S. teachers earn less than 60% of what similarly educated professionals make.

One-fifth of teachers work a second job
According to a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, 18% of teachers across the U.S. earn income outside the classroom through a second job. According to the survey, conducted during the 2015-2016 school year, educators who worked outside their schools reported earning an average of $5,100 a year in those second jobs, with about half in other teaching or tutoring positions. Twenty-two per cent were in positions related in some way to teaching, while 28% were employed in jobs unrelated to education. The survey did not ask why teachers worked second jobs, nor did it inquire about whether they worked during summer breaks or during the school year.
Supreme Court rules non-union workers can’t be forced to pay fees to unions
In a major blow to the U.S. labor movement, the Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to allow public employee unions to require collective-bargaining fees from workers who choose not to join the union - overturning a 40-year-old precedent - arguing that the rule could require workers to give financial support to public policy positions they oppose. The decision in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, “will affect us, because it’s going to hurt the national unions that provided crucial support,” said Jay O’Neal, a West Virginia teacher and a leader of recent protests over pay and conditions. Meanwhile, Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, said that the decision could mean a loss of up to 200,000 members: $28m less in the organization’s $366m budget. “We know it will have an impact, and we know we will come back,” she said.

Senators urge DeVos to fix TEACH grant mess
Some 19 U.S. senators have now signed a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging her to fix the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program which helps prospective teachers pay for college or a master's degree. Education experts say the program serves a vital purpose but has been plagued by implementation problems which have left many teachers with debts they shouldn't have to pay. New documents obtained by NPR now reveal that a previously unreported plan to fix the program was totally ineffective.

----- STATE NEWS -----

More California students moving out-of-state for college
Data from the US Department of Education shows that California high school graduates are increasingly seeking college education in other states, with the number of freshmen enrolling out-of-state rising from 22,000 in 2006 to 40,000 in 2016. California-resident freshmen numbers at several out-of-state colleges have doubled in the past decade, with schools benefiting from higher tuition rates charged to non-residents. In 2016, 17,000 out-of-state students came to California for college, with California State University colleges rejecting 30,000 students a year due to capacity limitations. Research from the Public Policy Institute of California projects a 1.1m college-educated worker shortage in California by 2030.

----- DISTRICTS -----
Oakland must close schools, grand jury concludes
A grand jury report has concluded that Oakland USD is operating too many schools to manage on its budget. Alameda County civil grand jury found that the opening of two new schools in 2017-18 aggravated the district’s fiscal crisis and that underfunding may be the reason that 20% of OUSD schools scored in the bottom 5% for ELA and math, stating: “School occupancy must be assessed and painful decisions made regarding closure and consolidation as soon as possible.” OUSD school board ordered $9m in budget cuts halfway through the 2017-18 school year to keep the district fiscally solvent.

Teacher union declares deadlock in LA USD talks
United Teachers Los Angeles has declared an impasse in labor talks with Los Angeles USD, and has called for the introduction of a state-appointed mediator. UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, which represents more than 35,000 teachers and other employees, accused the district of “softening the ground” for the introduction of “privatization schemes that have failed in other cities.” In response, LA USD Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, said the district rejects the declaration of a deadlock, adding: “A review of the parties’ proposals and counterproposals, which can be found on the L.A. Unified and UTLA websites, shows the district has been engaged in a good-faith effort to reach agreement.”

----- HEALTH & WELLBEING -----

Study maps U.S. childhood well-being
Children growing up in the northeastern United States are more likely to have better overall well-being than anywhere else in the country, according to new rankings by the Annie E. Casey Foundation compiled using a composite of official statistics, which indicate that children in the South, Southwestern states and Appalachia typically rank lowest. For overall well-being, California was ranked 31st out of all of the U.S states, while nationally, in 2016, 19% of children lived in households below the federal poverty rate, which was $25,339 for a family of two adults and two children that year. California performed well in health, ranking ninth in measures that include incidence of babies born with low birth weight, insurance coverage, childhood mortality and abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs, but 45th in education and 41st in family and community, which means it has higher numbers of children in single-parent hous eholds or households where parents lack a high school diploma, living in a high-poverty area or where the teenage birth rate is high.

----- TECHNOLOGY -----

Chico to give all middle and high school students Chrome books
Chico USD is to supply all students from sixth graders to seniors with Chrome books, after it was found that some students did not have access to modern technology with which to complete assignments. After a successful trial at one middle school, the district plans to roll out the scheme at all middle and high schools next school year, with students able to take the laptops home.

.----- OTHER -----

Los Angeles USD apologizes after student wore KKK costume for history project
A high school in Los Angeles USD is facing backlash from students and parents, after a student was allegedly approved by his history teacher to wear a Klu Klux Klan costume as part of a final project presentation. Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy is amongst the best schools in Southern California for college attendance rates amongst minority students – with 96% of students coming from minority backgrounds and 85% of students going on to college. An LAUSD spokesperson “sincerely apologize[d]” for the incident, calling the costume “insensitive and highly inappropriate.” She underlined that both the district and the school did not “condone or support this type of re-enactment.”

NTA Life Insurance - An ABCFT Sponsor
About three years ago ABCFT stated a working relationship with National Teachers Associates Life Insurance Company. Throughout our partnership, NTA has been supportive of ABCFT activities by sponsorship and prizes for our various events. This organization specializes in providing insurance for educators across the nation. We have been provided both data and member testimonials about how pleased they have been with the NTA products and the opportunity to look at alternatives to the district insurance choice.