UESF candidates debate – EDU statements

If you missed the debate this past Monday, please check out these statements from our officer candidates! They were excellent!

Lita Blanc – candidate for president
The events of the last year demonstrate that UESF is at a crossroads and that *only* Educators for a Democratic Union has offered a *clear*
and *consistent *political perspective to our members.

In October, we put out a flier calling for no more Furlough Days and no more cuts. We said we needed to start preparing members for a real fight with the district, including the possibility of a strike.

In January, EDU proposed that since the district was proposing*millions of dollars in concessions, we mobilize our members when we brought our bargaining proposal to the Board of Education. The current leadership opposed this-saying it was *premature, unduly antagonistic* and moreover, we were accused of overstating the district’s demands.

Wouldn’t it have served our members* *better *if we had started out the bargaining cycle with a demonstration of solidarity?* Of course it
would have*. Isn’t it possible that the district might not have moved so quickly into union-busting mode with their attack on seniority rights?

At the March Executive Board, EDU brought forward a resolution calling for an April membership meetings to start the strike authorization
process. We asked, “How else were we going to force the district to spend down its reserves?”

Once again, we were told that our proposal was premature…. even dangerous …..The explanation was that UESF would be opening itself up to charges of bargaining in bad faith. The E Board was told that they couldn’t *even* vote on the resolution because the district could
eventually see the minutes. absurd.Even if that the elected leadership of our union could and should have had an off – the -record discussion of this proposal.

In April, when the Enough is Enough campaign was announced, EDU members asked the current leadership to clarify the nature of the May
10th meeting. Why *not* tell members that would be a strike vote meeting? Rather than offering a clear perspective, the current leaderhship hedged its bets. We heard “ Let’s see how members respond to the survey. Let’s see how many members commit to a rally at 555 Franklin. Let’s see what the district brings to the table on April 25th.

Once again, why the hesitation? One thing is for sure. If from the beginning, the UESF leadership had called for that strike authorization
vote on May 10th, we would have had one whole month and not 10 days to get the massive turn out we need.

In order to win this fight, we need a union that won’t back down. We need a union that is not afraid of telling its members exactly whats
going on. We need a union that embraces a larger vision of social justice. EDU can provide the leadership this union needs to move forward.

(closing comments)
EDU’s starting point is the belief that our power lies in the organized force of our members. We believe that the fightback in Madison, the emergence of Occupy and even the grassroots support for the Millionaires Tax all point to a new stage in the labor movement and in our fight to defend public education. There are two sides in this fight- our side and corporate America and those who, *conciously or* *unconciously*, carry out its policies.

The current leadership does not share this vision. Let’s back up to August 2011. When I got my union card in the mail, it was accompanied by a letter from Dennis and Linda. For the second year in a row, it said “Last year, we became part owners of the district. We contributed close to
40 million dollars to keep it solvent” I did not become an owner of this district. You did not become an owner of this district. What we became
was poorer. Look what we gave up last time! Now, they’re coming back for more and more.

This notion of somehow partnering or collaborating with the district undermines our ability to organize our fight. It misleads and disarms
our members. It leads to looking for a compromise, rather than holding firm to our goals. Are we fighting against all cuts or just permanent
cuts? Are we fighting to eliminate all lay-offs or just reduce the numbers?

Together, we can win our demands if we are willing to organize around them. I have two examples I’d like you to think about. First let’s talk
about the district’s move to standardize para hours. Of the paras affected, most are actually gaining hours. However, there are more than
sixty special ed paras who will lose hours… resulting in a significant drop in pay.

Our union has offered help to those individual paras to “work things out” but informed everyone that “the district has the legal authority to
make these changes.” Just because the district is within its legal rights, that shouldn’t meant that we accept an injustice. Why are we giving up without a fight? An injury to one is an injury to all. All teachers and all paras, those whose hours were increased and those whose hours were cut should be outraged and encouraged to do something about this.I believe that UESF should be organizing ,right now, this spring, to protect our members’ livelihood.If anyone’s work is irreplaceable in SFUSD, it is the work of special ed paras. Can you imagine if all special ed paras were so upset by this move that they couldn’t report to work? What about the parents of those children who are currently taught and taken care of by these paras? I don’t think the school board could move ahead with this restructuring if parents of all those special needs kids went to the school board en masse.

How we fight is just as important as what we’re fighting for. Here’s another example:  Last year, I brought forward a proposal to demand that SFUSD end MAPS, an unnecessary and useless district test. The May assembly was unanimously in favor of this resolution.In August, Dennis told us that union lawyers had told him that if the district told us to test 181 days a year, we had to test 181 days a year. End of story. It doesn’t have to be that way. At some point, if we truly want do defend our rights and protect public education, we have to prepared to challenge unjust laws and policies.

In contrast, EDU initiated a fight against PALS, an onerous K-1 assessment that the district imposed on 30 elementary schools. We brought a reso to the E Board, mobilized members to attend first an assembly meeting and then a meeting with the associate superintendents. We had so many people at that first meeting that we had to keep on moving to bigger conference rooms. The district agreed to set up a task force with UESF leadership and rank and file. After a lot of hard work, the district backed off and dropped the PALS assessment.

I think we should have organized against MAPS in the same way. I think we shouldn’t give up the fight against excessive testing…not at the
bargaining table nor at our school sites.

How we fight is just as important as what we are fighting for. We need an informed, involved and mobilized membership. That’s what EDU’s
all about.

Andy Libson – candidate for vice-president

My name is Andy Libson, and I am running on the EDU slate for Executive Vice President of UESF. I have been a science teacher at Mission HS and active both on the UBC and as Building Rep. for 11 years. I played a leading role in organizing the March4th walkout at our school and across the district.

My years of union activism have taught me that a union leadership must always work to keep the membership fully informed and put them at the center of decision making. We must operate transparently to let members know what we are doing and why we were doing i. We must always stand for sound union and social justice principles. Most of all, a leadership emphasizes collective action of its members to defend our rights, the rights of our students and families and our schools.

A vote for EDU is a vote for a union built from the bottom up and a leadership that is prepared to fight.

There is a rumor out there that EDU wants a strike. As a founding member of EDU let me tell you what EDU wants. EDU wants to stop the attack on public education. That means stopping all the layoffs, getting all our furlough days back and stopping ALL the outrageous cuts proposed by the district. EDU believes we will need to strike to stop these attacks and the district has made it perfectly clear it will respond to nothing else.

We have a lot of work to do to have a successful strike….For that reason UESF must begin strike preparations now starting with the
strike vote on May 10th . We need a massive turnout to May 10th and a massive “YES” vote on the day as a first step towards a strike in the
fall. The current leadership has finally made that call but in making it they have already conceded too much to the district. I will read from a
recent UESF e-mail blast to clarify.

It says…UESF stands for No Furlough days – NO permanent cuts – NO radical changes to the contract.

For EDU….This is not “Enough is Enough!” Here is how we would put it: NO furlough days, No cuts at all (permanent or temporary), restore ALL layoffs and not a single change to our contract that worsens our already impossible work conditions. And by the way, we want a 2% raise for all our members.Those are the demands EDU is prepared to strike for in the Fall..and defend after our contract is settled.

If you agree with us Vote for Andy libson for Vice President, Lita Blanc as President and vote EDU!

Lisa Gutierrez Guzman – candidate for secretary
Sisters and brothers: I could talk to you about how I was a secretary for over 15 years and on a bargaining team prior to becoming an
educator, but I won’t do that. I could talk to you about how I was a para, shared the leadership of Buena Vista and was the Instructional Program Coordinator at Flynn and have been a classroom teacher for most of my years in education.

I certainly have the experience to do the job because of the above, but I am qualified to be your secretary because I am an activist. I was a
delegate on the CTA State Council and am an active delegate at the CFT and NEA conventions. I was the Human Rights Contact for the Service Center Council of which UESF is a member.

I have been on the UBC at the schools where I’ve worked and usually was the Building Rep. I have been your Bilingual Rep on the E-Board for almost three terms and was appointed by a Board of Ed member to the Bilingual Community Council.

In addition, I have been a member of the Educators for a Democratic Union since its inception almost four years ago. E.D.U. calls for what I want to see in our union, leadership which encourages rank-and-file and elected officials to hit the educational crisis we face head on.

The attacks on our students and on us calls for more participation from the bottom up and to fight for *every* member–classified and certificated. EDU has taken the lead in pushing for equity and justice and against budget cuts, furloughs, layoffs, and high stakes testing. For example, our members initiated the fight against the K/1 PALS test by bringing the issue to our sites and to the E-Board and Elementary Committee. In turn, the committee brought our concerns to the asst. superintendants until the decision was made that the test be thrown out.

If elected, I will encourage all of our members to take leadership roles in fighting at our sites and at the District level. Elected leaders cannot
fight by themselves; you, the rank-and-file, will make it happen by working side-by-side with us. Vote for me for secretary and for the entire E.D.U. slate for the change we need to fight the attacks on education.