Bargaining Update #16

In this newsletter:

  • Virtual School Negotiations Update
    • Summit’s proposal still in development
  • Contract Negotiations Update
    • SPS management continues to push for teachers to work through June as at-will employees with no additional compensation
  • SPS Board Meeting Recap
    • New person appointed to SPS Board
  • Legal Update
  • EL Survey Reminder

Virtual School Negotiations Update
Friday 12/11, we bargained for the sixth time about the virtual school model.  Since our third meeting, it has been Summit management’s turn to present a proposal (here is our last proposal).  Summit’s bargaining team explained that their proposal is still in development and shared their “status” (see documents here).  

The issues with virtual school that Summit has identified are largely the same issues we have been raising since August.  Our bargaining team has explained that it is crucial for teachers and students to work with a better virtual model as soon as possible.  If you feel the same, speak up to your site’s leadership.

Contract Negotiations
On Wednesday, we had our 16th bargaining session with Summit management. 

Summit presented a discipline counter-proposal that continues the practice of at-will employment. We have continued to share that at-will employment is not acceptable to our teachers. After a probationary period, teachers should only be disciplined or fired for “just cause”. This means that unless there are egregious circumstances that threaten the immediate health and safety of our students, staff, and school community, a teacher should only be disciplined or fired if Summit has followed a fair and transparent disciplinary process (see our last proposal here). Without these protections, Summit can continue its practice of firing a teacher for any reason or no reason at all. A total lack of job security means that teachers cannot fully advocate for themselves and their students without fear of retaliation. 

Summit also presented a group of finance-related proposals including Compensation and Benefits, Class Size, and Calendar/Work Year. Summit continues to insist that teachers should have to work through the end of June in exchange for ending the school day at 4pm. Summit management told us at the bargaining table that they heard from us that teachers want greater job sustainability and that their proposal to shorten the school day while significantly lengthening the school year is their attempt to do just that. We do not understand how lengthening the school year by many weeks allows for greater job sustainability. Notably, despite adding on many more work days, Summit’s proposal does not contain any salary raises to reflect the extra work, nor does their latest compensation proposal contain an across the board cost of living adjustment.

 Unite Summit presented counter-proposals on Technology, Resources, Assessments and Curriculum; Union Rights; Leaves; and Evaluation.  

  • Technology, Resources, Curriculum and Assessment.  Among other items, we are pushing for resources provided on the platform to be accessible to students as defined by IDEA.  Summit’s bargaining team stated that they are not legally obligated to bargain over this and many other items in our proposal. We will continue to advocate for robust language that ensures teachers have the tools and resources they need to meet the needs of all students.  
  • Leaves.  The main sticking point remains parental leave. Most notably, we are pushing for SPS to provide supplemental payments for parental leave (such as SDI and PFL)  for up to six weeks.
  • Evaluation. We provided a significantly reworked evaluation proposal which lays out a process for providing teachers with  concrete feedback that supports long-term professional growth.

SPS Board Meeting Recap
On December 11 at 8am, Summit had a Board meeting. This continues Summit’s practice of holding Board meetings at times that are inaccessible to most of our school stakeholders, which means that our Board does not get the full picture of what is happening in our schools. For example, Diane Tavenner presented data to the Board that painted a very positive picture of virtual school, including that our attendance is 94% and that 76% of students self report that they are “always being attentive during virtual classes.” However, the data shared during our virtual school negotiations paints a much different picture, including these graphs:

Again, when Board members are not able to hear from the people actually doing the work in the classroom, they are not able to truly understand what is happening in our schools and what changes need to be made in order to better serve our students. You can see all the materials presented at the Board meeting here.

We were encouraged to see that the Santa Clara County Board of Education has appointed someone to the SPS Board — Dr. Anisha Munshi. Dr. Munshi currently serves Assistant Superintendent of Professional Learning & Instructional Support at the Santa Clara County Office of Education and has previously served in many other roles, including as a teacher and a principal. 

We have long advocated to our authorizers that they appoint members to Summit’s Board, in part because the composition of its Board is mainly businessmen who are not from our community and have no experience in education. We are encouraged by Santa Clara County’s actions and will continue to push for Summit to have more transparent and accessible governance

Legal Update
The hearing about the three Unite Summit activists who were fired last June is happening this week. COVID significantly delayed the timeline for this hearing, and we are glad that our folks are finally able to have their day in court.

The hearing addresses one of five Unfair Labor Practice charges we have had to file against Summit. As a reminder, the other allegations in our four ULPs can be quickly summarized as:

  • Summit’s illegal conduct during our union recognition process
  • Summit’s delay in starting the bargaining process
  • Summit’s threats to Rainier teachers regarding the school’s closure
  • Summit’s bad faith bargaining surrounding the pay freeze this summer

The Public Employment Relations Board has issued a complaint for each of these ULPs. We continue to urge Summit to respect our union, bargain in good faith, and follow the law.

EL Survey
We have noticed the Summit is beginning to discuss programming with faculty.  We are committed to bargaining a genuine, strong EL program.  There is still time to complete this quicksurvey about how we can better support English Learners. This is an important part of our support services article; your input will be valuable in the creation of our continued advocacy for EL students.