By now all members of UESF should have received a ballot in the mail asking you to vote yes or no on the Tentative Agreement. But don’t be fooled, just because you got a ballot and you get to vote on this contract, doesn’t make this process democratic, not in the slightest. You might even consider voting NO for this reason: our union leadership should engage as many members as possible in democratic decision making processes, especially on matters as essential as our contract.
Democratic practice is based on having the broadest possible informed participation of those involved. The new Executive Board had to review the TA (tentative agreement) and approve it before it was sent on to all members for ratification. This meeting happened on August 1st. We read through it for three hours. Some asked clarifying questions during this time, but mostly we were just trying to get through the document and understand it. When we were done we literally had 10 minutes left in the meeting room and we were asked to vote to recommend the TA to the membership. EDU members pleaded for slowing down, for not making a decision on the same day, for involving members and talking to others before we moved forward. These pleas were all but ignored and the vote moved forward. PLC members voted for it. EDU voted against. That’s the plain truth. The TA passed the Executive Board 14 – 7.
Your ballot is due in the UESF office on August 20. Most members don’t return to work until the 15th, the same day as one of two informational meetings the union office has poorly publicized. You have two chances to go to a meeting to get more information about the TA – the 14th from 3-5 and the 15th from 4-6 both at Everett MS. These meetings both end too early to be inclusive of EED (formerly CDP) workers who will be the most severely injured in this new contract. Sure they had a meeting of their own on August 6th. A handful attended. Should our leadership be happy with a tiny minority of the membership being informed about the concessions in this new contact? Your ballot can be delivered at these meetings or put in the mail by Thursday (to be safe). Is this really enough time to be seriously deliberative about changes in working conditions and concessions that will follow us for years?
In May over 1800 members of our union voted to take a strike vote. This is nearly 3 times the number of members who voted in the union election that same month. Members voted for a strike vote to happen. We didn’t vote for our bargaining team to go in and settle over the summer without our input. Why didn’t the second strike vote meeting get scheduled?
Sadly, undemocratic process is consistent with what we have seen from the PLC leadership over the last years. The bargaining team was appointed by union president Dennis Kelly. A bargaining team elected by at least the standing Executive Board would be more accountable to the folks who elected them and to the membership they are speaking for. Bargaining reports were made by the president with very little input from other bargaining team members during discussion. The Executive Board was not asked to set priorities for bargaining, nor were EBoard members asked what they thought about the reports or encouraged to shape bargaining in any way. This is the result – a contract that is filled with concessions and a union membership largely unaware of what the people who are supposed to be representing them are doing.
Vote NO on the TA and send SFUSD and your union a message that we all deserve better than this.