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Some unions say MDUSD proposals would devastate them

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, June 14th, 2010 at 6:32 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek.

By Theresa Harrington
Budget cuts are causing union negotiations to go sour quickly in the Mt. Diablo school district, according to some employee representatives.
Members of the Calfornia School Employees Association and Local One say they plan to rally before the board meeting tomorrow to express their frustrations over proposals they find unacceptable.
“The district is looking to make permanent concessions, which would be devastating to our membership,” said James Jones, who represents members of Local One. “They just want to tear out of the collective bargaining agreement all the things we’ve worked for and basically not even try to work together. We think the community needs to know that.”
Jones said the union is willing to make temporary concessions for three years or less to help the district get through the current state budget crisis. Members plan an “informational picket” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the district office, he said.
Annie Nolen, who represents members of the Calfornia School Employees Association, said negotiations came to an impasse quickly, when the district refused to increase benefits workers rely on.
“What is getting ready to happen is going to be so bad,” she said. “We figure some of the members may not bring home a paycheck.”
This is because most members of the union, which includes campus supervisors and other non-teaching positions, work six hours a day or less. Nolen estimates most of their paychecks would be eaten up by benefits contributions under the district’s proposal.
Nolen said the statewide union president plans to attend the Mt. Diablo rally.
“We’ve been planning this for quite a while,” she said. “They’re getting ready to layoff and reduce hours, which will hurt my people even more. Most of them are poverty level anyway, especially my single women. They’re already working more than one job.”
Fiscal services director Bryan Richards said the board has to cut somewhere. It could try to push through cuts to employee salaries and benefits.
“Absent getting those, we’re going to have to be able to make cuts to make up the difference,” Richards said. “I anticipate that we are going to have to have a plan. We should have direction on how that plan’s going to take shape after tomorrow night’s board meeting.”
A list of possible budget reductions was not included in the agenda. But the board expects to discuss union negotiations during closed session and may report its decisions during the public portion of the meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the district office.
Meanwhile, the teachers’ union doesn’t anticipate coming to the negotiating table until September, said president-elect Michael Langley. Union members are voting today on a new vice president to fill Langley’s previous position.
Former union president Mike Noce will return to teaching at Foothill Middle School. Three members seeking the vice presidency were narrowed to two after the first vote was taken.
Today, members are choosing between Northgate teacher Guy Moore and librarian Jo Carlson. Moore received 237 votes in the first election and Carlston received 347.
El Monte Elementary teacher Linda Ortega received 116 votes and didn’t qualify for the runoff.
The new union officer would be part of the executive board, which doesn’t plan to meet again until August, due to summer vacation, Langley said.
Do you think the district should agree to temporary concessions, instead of permanent ones? Do you think the district should make other cuts to prevent employees from taking deep reductions?

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  • Doctor J

    What hypocrisy ! Richards, one of the Gang of Five who got a substantial raise, along with the lawyer, last November, is the architect of cutting benefits to low paid employees. He says the Board must “cut somewhere” — OMG — look in the mirror and trim your salary back to what it was pre-November along with the rest of the Gang of Five. And don’t forget the Supt who was hired in February at $100,000 more than he was making in Sacramento plus a $25k bonus and almost $100k more than Nicholl. Other districts in the East Bay have hired new Supt’s at LESS than their predecessors ! I can feel more disinformation starting to build — it worked with the Bond, let it begin with union negotiations. The truth is the Board doesn’t want to cut people — the jobs won’t get done, and the schools will grind to a halt. Hold fast Unions. Someone has to take out the garbage and fix the leaky pipes. Someone has to answer the phones and answer all those emails from the district office.

  • Contra Costa Resident

    When I read the letters to the Times, it seems that people want the public service unions to give up their benefits and have to deal with them like the public sector.

    I see MDUSD as taking an approach to this but the unions listed above don’t like it.

    Either you want public service unions to have full benefits or you want them to be treated like the private sector.

  • Adria Pou

    The secretaries and office managers (Local 1) have already seen their daily hours and work year reduced, and furlough days would have been implemented this coming school year. The district wants now to reduce even further the hours and work year for secretaries and office managers, increase furlough days, and reduce the health benefits. Since our paychecks are not so large to begin with, this is a real sacrifice. Reducing the benefits, which for many is the reason they stay in these jobs, is the ultimate. Should we be paying the district for the privilege to work there? I echo a previous message: the General Counsel received a raise of $39,000 this year and the new Superintendent also received a raise plus a $25,000 housing allowance.
    It seems that the district wants to make up the deficit on the backs of those who can least afford it.

  • changepls

    When does this madness stop? Steve Lawrence needs to resign immediately. He has singled handed turned MDUSD upside down with all the changes with principals at schools and the new positions at the district. The Board members need to rescind all pay raises for all appointments that have been made in the past 6 months. Schools are being violated with dangerous cuts to secretaries and instructional assistants that will affect the safety of our children. I think the State should come in and investigate the district, the superintendent, and the school members immediately. As parents, we need to make the district stop this massacre of our schools and employees. Now he hired a man with such a questionable background, there is no excuse that is acceptable. It is time for the Superintendent to submit his resignation immediately!