Today your Bargaining Team met with the district for our fourth day of mediation since the district ended the IBB process.
At the end of the day, we are wondering, did we take steps forward, or just fewer steps backward than we have become accustomed to?
On the one hand, the joint small-group work that we engaged in this week was productive, and seemed to bring us closer to agreement on a few issues. We had originally scheduled 3 mediation days this week, but our previous session made it clear the district’s team was not yet ready to hone in on a final deal. As a result, we agreed to use the first two days, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to build mutual understanding on the status of our proposals, the financial impacts of those proposals, and our many outstanding grievances. In small group conversations, we seemed to make some progress. As a result, the district agreed to withdraw a number of its regressive proposals.
On the other hand, the district still seems to struggle to understand their own proposal. At this point, 2 years into the bargaining process, we are still helping the district understand what proposals and agreements it has made. The district has “lost track” of some of the agreements both sides made during the mediation process. Every time this happens, it sets us back, as we have to either dig through notes to prove what had been agreed upon, or start from scratch. Astoundingly, at one point, the district failed to recognize a portion of their own proposal claiming it didn’t come from them!
Throughout the day, conversations kept circling back to our workload and student safety. One educator, an elementary PE teacher who has been scheduled to double up on classes every day, happened to be in the office, and was able to come tell his story to the district’s team. His story was a poignant reminder of how the issues of class size, student safety, the needs of special education students, and elementary planning time are all inter-related as workload issues.
We also tried to reach agreement on our proposal on Translation Services. We proposed that for educators in Dual Language programs, when the district does not provide all the needed curriculum and materials in the language of instruction, they should compensate educators for translating it themselves. The District, on the other hand, contends that it provides the materials required by the curriculum. Your messages to us have repeated over and over that the District’s claim is untrue.
Both of these examples get at the issue of doing “more with less.” Why provide curriculum in the language of instruction when teachers are translating if for free? Why hire two PE teachers when you can get one teacher to teach two classes at once?
As our Bargaining Chair Steve Lancaster said last weekend at our Organizing Retreat, “The District must understand that our patience is as expired as our contract. We need the District to remember that they are not just dealing with the PAT bargaining team, whom they can easily disrespect and dismiss without consequence. They are talking to all 3,500 of you through us. They need to know without a shadow of doubt, that when it comes to asking us to compromise our core values, WE WILL NOT FOLD; WE WILL FIGHT!!!!!”