Welcome Back and Bargaining Update #8

Dear Unite Summit Community,  

Welcome back to school!  Our union leadership is proud to serve our students with you as we engage in professional development and begin to prepare for student orientation.   The amount of time we have spent on zoom for these last two weeks is virtually unprecedented.  We want to acknowledge that this coming year, our work as mentors and teachers will be incredibly challenging.  It is hard to support our students when they, and we, need to confront isolation and illness.  We want to acknowledge the importance of your work.  

In this newsletter you will find information on:

  • Unite Summit welcome back meetings
  • An update on cash advances
  • A summary of our 8th contract bargaining session
  • An update on virtual school negotiations

Welcome Back Meeting

Your school site’s union representative will hold a welcome back meeting within these next two weeks.  Your rep will invite you to take specific actions to support our current goals.  These goals include:
1) reopening during COVID 19 with a fair agreement;
2) restoring compensation;
3) bargaining a fair contract. 

Your rep will invite you to show support for these goals each  Wednesday  by wearing a union t-shirt or using our logo as a zoom background or profile pic!  You are also invited to join a union committee focused on specific actions.  At your site meeting, ite reps will provide further context and information about future  actions.  In order to ensure that your contact information is up to date and to participate, we ask that you complete this survey.  

Cash Advance Update

During bargaining, we inquired about the process for receiving a cash advance, as outlined in our pay freeze agreement. You should have received an email in your SPS account earlier this week detailing the timeline: you will receive instructions for how to opt-in to the cash advance on Monday, August 17. You have until Friday, August 21, to sign up to receive the cash advance. 

Bargaining Session #8

On Tuesday, our bargaining team had our eighth negotiating session with Summit about our first union contract. 

SPS management presented three counter-proposals:

  • Employment Status. Summit management wants to retain at-will employment, no matter how long you’ve been with your school. The SPS management bargaining team asserted that no job security was “what’s best for students” according to “research,” but when pressed, did not provide any further research, rationale, or information. This counter-proposal added a deadline of April 15 to let teachers know if they have “reasonable assurance” (though no guarantee) of being asked back for the following year.
  • Assignment and Transfer. SPS management wants to keep the current process for teachers who want to move to a different school; we are fairly aligned on this point. While our proposal provided a process for assigning classes, the SPS management team does not want faculty to have input on course assignments and did not agree that teachers should be hired to teach specific subjects.
  • Layoff and Reemployment. SPS management’s proposal states if layoffs are necessary for the following school year, unit members will be notified by May 1. When asked how the timing of layoffs interacted with their employment status proposal (in other words, a teacher could receive a letter of “reasonable assurance” that they would have a job next year on April 15 and then receive a layoff notice May 1), the SPS team could provide no explanation. Given what we went through this summer, we believe it is crucial to negotiate a strong layoff article. 

We are awaiting counter-proposals from Summit’s management team on the following: academic freedom; assessments and curriculum; class size and caseload; compensation; discipline and dismissal; evaluation; facilities; health and safety; health and welfare benefits; hours of employment, job duties, and work year; intellectual property; leaves of absence; professional development and teacher/mentor support; shared governance; support services; and union rights.

We ended the bargaining by agreeing to regular bargaining sessions. Our next bargaining date will likely be September 2. We will be presenting counter proposals on: assignment, transfer, and reassignment; employment status; grievance and arbitration; layoff and reemployment; management rights; and organizational security. 

The following Unite Summit Bargaining Team members attended today’s meeting: Joey Hughes, Expeditions; Fuchsia Spring, K2; Amber Steele, Denali Middle; Sarah Rivas, Denali High; Hillary Odom, Shasta; Evan Anderson, Everest; and Douglas Wills, Tahoma. Daryl Hemenway and Ona Keller from CTA also joined the discussion. 

The following Summit management Bargaining Team members attended: Diane Tavenner, CEO; Kelly Garcia, Chief of Staff; and Jimmy Zuniga, Everest Executive Director.

Virtual School Negotiations

As we wrote in our last update, we have not come to an agreement about virtual school/reopening. We filed paperwork with the Public Employment Relations Board to start the next step in the negotiations process: mediation. PERB agreed that mediation is needed. A mediator has been appointed and we are in the process of scheduling our first mediation session.

As a reminder, we have three main asks for a sustainable virtual school:

  1. Meeting times capped at 90 minutes/week
  2. Hard stop of 4pm
  3. Written, guaranteed $530 stipend for working from home. 

Please continue to let your EDs know why you support these reasonable asks. We will keep you updated when our first mediation session is scheduled. 

Again, welcome back. Look for an email from your site rep, and reach out if you do not hear from them within the next few days.  This school year will be difficult, and we look forward to meeting with you soon.

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