Return to School Negotiations

Thank you for sharing your concerns about opening during COVID 19.  This newsletter includes an opportunity to sign up for a union committee, and a bargaining update.

Committee Sign Up

Union leadership has created a series of committees that will develop our vision for the year and collectively work on behalf of teachers across SPS.  The goal of elected union leadership is to use transparent, inclusive practices to support teachers. 

In this form, please indicate your interest in joining a committee.  

Bargaining Update: Teaching In COVID 19 

On Thursday and Friday, SPS and US had scheduled negotiations to reopen SPS this fall.  In accordance with state guidelines, school will start completely virtual.  Any physical opening would be negotiated.  Our priorities in negotiating with SPS this week included:

  1. Hard stop by 4 PM.  This would increase prep time, allow teachers to take jobs to supplement lost income, care for families, and reduce negative impacts of screen time.
  2. Faculty meetings scheduled for Wednesdays during flexible work time, capped at 90 minutes per week.  Site admin would be able to make exceptions.  This would increase prep time.
  3. Sites able to adapt their schedule with majority support from teachers and approval from site administration.  This would include repurposing Reads/Solves as both Office Hours, interventions, club, AP study, or prep.  This would allow teachers to differentiate for student needs.
  4. Protected, increased prep time including equity for middle school teachers.
  5. Increased professional development including best practices for online engagement.
  6. Student orientation for virtual school, including for students new to the PLP.
  7. Student resources to support economic stability and emotional health.
  8. Virtual school materials stipend of $500.

Beginning negotiations, our bargaining team felt optimistic that SPS would willingly negotiate a temporary agreement, functional this year only, to address concerns with virtual teaching during COVID 19.  In alignment with Governor Newson’s reopening guidelines, the SPS bargaining team verbally stated that our schools will likely remain closed and may provide physical workspace for students following state guidelines in the future.  They verbally described plans for student orientation; teacher professional development; a materials stipend for teachers; adjustments to the middle school schedule, and student resources which aligned to our priorities.  Notably, we will hold class via zoom.

As teachers, we all know it is crucial for our employers to record these items in a legally-enforceable agreement.  These last two days, however, SPS has offered only one narrow proposal that describes the change to the middle school structure.  They have repeatedly stated that because they are basically following the same virtual school plan from  Spring 2020, they may legally reopen without negotiating any further.  

Let us be clear: it is legally mandatory for SPS to negotiate on the following topics according to California law:  

  • Hours of Employment: hard stop at 4 PM (priority 1).
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment: conditions which strongly impact our ability to complete work responsibilities such as prep time and a virtual school stipend.

This is what happened during bargaining:

  • SPS verbally described their plans to reopen, without a proposal.
  • US shared a first proposal stating alignment on the principles of SPS plans and asking Summit to write a proposal to define key aspects of their plan.
  • SPS shared their first and only proposal defining only changes to the middle school structure.
  • US shared a second proposal. (Note that this is from US, not SPS, as written in the title and first sentence.)
  • SPS stated that they would not provide a second proposal.
  • US shared a third proposal including only our bare minimum priorities. They are all mandatory subjects of bargaining:
    • Hard stop at 4
    • Wednesday meeting schedule with 90 minute cap
    • Stipend for materials
    • Changes to the middle school schedule

SPS refused to produce any proposals with concessions or compromises.  If this continues, this is refusal to bargain over mandatory subjects of bargaining. 

What is especially disappointing about Summit’s behavior is that we are actually quite close to an agreement. Our members have made clear that limiting meeting times and stopping at 4pm is a priority, for the reasons described above. This is a simple and reasonable ask. We are unclear why Summit is not willing to put their verbal promises into a written proposal and why Summit is unwilling to agree to a reasonable amount of meeting time, especially given that our teachers have taken a pay freeze. 
We have determined that we will email SPS to provide a final opportunity to negotiate on these issues.  In contrast with SPS, we are bargaining in good faith and are willing to compromise.Because we formed a union, we have the legal right to negotiate what we need to teach well and to live decently.  It is both moral and legal for our union to advocate for what we need in order to teach our students.  If SPS refuses to comply with the law and negotiate on mandatory topics of bargaining, then we will take action through the Public Education Relations Board.