Welcome Back!

We’re so happy to start the 2019-20 school year with all of you! We’re grateful for all our hardworking veterans who are returning and excited to meet our new colleagues. 

In this newsletter, you will find:

  • Schedule Changes and Curriculum Adjustments
  • Information on Bargaining Preparations
  • An Update on Union Recognition
  • An Update on Wrongful Terminations

Schedule Changes and Curriculum Adjustments
We started to hear about proposed changes to the schedule last spring, and Unite Summit proactively reached out to SPS leadership to request that they follow their legal obligations by discussing any proposed changes to working conditions with our union. SPS leadership denied that changes to working conditions would be made without leadership meeting those legal obligations; however, despite repeated requests, SPS leadership has yet to meet with union representatives. These requests started in April and would have allowed us time to communicate with our site teams and create a system in which there was genuine shared governance around the decision-making process that would have allowed teachers to have a real say in the proposed schedule changes. 

Our union is still asking for SPS leadership to meet its legal obligations and negotiate with teachers surrounding these proposed changes to working conditions. We are pushing to get these meetings started as soon as possible as we know teachers want their concerns addressed before students return to school. 

We have also heard concerns regarding last-minute changes to curriculum, and we would like to work with teachers and SPS leadership to gather teacher input and expeditiously address those concerns.  

Information on Bargaining Preparation
Last school year, we gathered input from meetings and surveys about what teachers wanted in our union contract. Our elected bargaining team has been working on putting those ideas into draft contract proposals, and, in the upcoming weeks, there will be more opportunities to give your input — including Office Hours at school site PDs.

Current elected Bargaining Team members are:

Rainier: Isela Mosqueira, SpanishTam Middle School: Fahima Zaman, ScienceExpeditions: Liz DeOrnellas, Journalism 
K2 Middle School: Haley Ralph (Holt), HistoryK2 High School: Brendan Boland, English
Summit Prep: Dan McClure, ScienceEverest: Evan Anderson, Science

Last school year, teachers across our campuses expressed a preference for a larger Bargaining Team that included separate representatives for each middle and high school campus, plus the Expeditions team. That means there are openings at Shasta, Tahoma, Denali Middle, Denali High, and Tam High. Please reach out to the following Organizing Committee members if you are interested in learning more about running in September elections for our Bargaining Team: 

  • Shasta- Sarah Day Dayon
  • Tahoma- Morris Shieh
  • Denali Middle- Amber Steele
  • Denali High- Sarah Rivas
  • Tam High- Ernesto Umana.

We are also looking for volunteers to join each site’s Contract Action Team. This is a much more informal position; you would be tasked with helping your elected Bargaining Team representative solicit feedback from the teachers at your site and craft bargaining proposals. If you’re interested in that role, contact the Bargaining Team member (or election coordinator) listed above.

An Update on Union Recognition
This summer, we met with lawyers from Summit and a lawyer from the Public Employment Relations Board to try and facilitate an agreement about who should be in our bargaining unit (in other words, the people represented by our union). See here for more details.

While we didn’t come to an agreement at that meeting, we did file paperwork to explicitly state that we are no longer trying to include residents in our union (because they are not technically employees of SPS) and that we do not want employees from the Home Office included in our bargaining unit.

Summit responded that Home Office positions such as Diploma Manager, UX Research Manager, and District Success Director, and others “perform duties typical of teachers…[and are] integrated with the functions of certificated teachers” and therefore must be included in our union.

The law is clear on the issue of who can be included in a bargaining unit. We petitioned to form a union for teachers, those who work at our school sites and on the Expeditions team — it’s our legal right to define our bargaining unit in the way that we did.

The PERB attorney has now ordered Summit to prove why our request for union recognition should not be granted. In other words, Summit has to provide evidence and proof as to why Home Office employees must be included in our bargaining unit by August 28. You can see the full letter from the PERB attorney here.

This is a very positive development! We are on firm legal ground and, if the PERB attorney finds that Summit cannot show that our proposed bargaining unit is inappropriate, she can recognize Unite Summit and we can begin negotiating our first union contract!

There has never been a question of if we would be recognized as the union for Summit teachers – the fact that 75% of teachers signed our petition to unionize makes our recognition inevitable. The only question left is when we will be recognized; we hope that Summit stops with the legal delays and recognizes our union so that we can sit down at the bargaining table and work together to increase support services for students, help reduce teacher turnover, and include teachers in decisions that directly impact our classrooms.

An Update on Wrongful Terminations
As some of you know, three of our co-workers were let go by Summit administration at the end of last school year after they were given contracts for this school year.  As a union we responded rapidly to this situation because we believe SPS admin acted illegally as these three educators were not only hardworking and dedicated but also had been active in building our union. As you know, it is illegal (not to mention unethical) to discriminate against anyone for their union activity.  As such, we responded to this decision by immediately taking action, including:

  • Meeting with SPS leadership to express our deep concerns
  • Filing a formal complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board
  • Launching a petition that already has over 1700 signatures (you can add your name at tinyurl.com/StandByUS )
  • Meeting with elected officials from the state legislature and school districts who represent the communities where our schools are located

We have been overwhelmed by the unity demonstrated by Summit educators in response to this inappropriate behavior by administration and encouraged by the numbers of colleagues and community members who have offered to help.  Summit’s behavior only reaffirms why we overwhelmingly decided to unionize in the first place. We will continue to stand up in solidarity with members of our community and are confident the unfortunate mistreatment of our colleagues will be remedied.

The easiest way you can help is to sign the petition if you haven’t already (tinyurl.com/StandByUS).  If you already have and want to do more, please contact a member of the Organizing Committee or email us at unitesummitteachers@gmail.com.

In Solidarity,
Sarah Rivas, Denali
Eric Jones, K2
Isela Mosqueira
Liz DeOrnellas, Expeditions
Sarah Day Dayon, Shasta 

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