Union members protest TUSD board meeting
by Michael Langley
Nov 15, 2013 | 6860 views | 11 11 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSD union protest
Members of the of California School Employees Association Chapter 98 and Tracy Educators Association fill the Tracy Unified School District board room, 1875 W. Lowell Ave., during the regular meeting of the board of education Tuesday, Nov. 12. The groups lobbied the seven board members to approve raises for district employees.  Michael Ellis Langley/Tracy Press
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Shouted protests and allegations of unfair negotiations and bullying marked a meeting of the Tracy Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Dozens of TUSD employees practiced chanting their slogans for 20 minutes before the scheduled meeting of the board. They filled the District Education Center Board Room, 1875 W. Lowell Ave., so teachers, bus drivers and janitors could speak out during the public comment period of the 7 p.m. meeting. The union members then left, never hearing the response of the board.

Denise Cheeseman, the president of California School Employees Association local chapter 98 and the chairwoman of the union’s negotiations team, talked about the plight of the men and women she represents.

“We’ve been trying to work on getting fair raises,” Cheeseman said. “We have members working two and three jobs just to feed their families.”

Bus driver and CSEA member Leonard Pacheco accused the board and administration of bullying the employees during his public comment.

It was a sentiment echoed by West High School art teacher Alex Nelson, whose Tracy Educators Association is also negotiating with the district for pay raises.

“Teachers teach because they love it. We definitely don’t teach because of the money,” Nelson said. “A big problem is they know that and they take advantage of that, the administration and the district and the board. That’s the bullying part.”

Nelson told the board during his public comment that he and his wife, parents of six, were forced two years ago to walk away from their home because they could no longer afford the mortgage payments.

“We were upside down on our loan and making less money every year,” Nelson said after he left the meeting. “I just want enough money that I can support my family. I want what’s fair. That 2 percent they’re talking about doesn’t even come close to covering the amount of money that health care has gone up for us.”

Nelson said the TEA believes there is more money available this year for raises because the state has begun returning funds to local school districts. Cheeseman said she has seen the budget numbers and agrees.

“In the amount they are offering, they are not calculating all of that new money coming in (from the state),” the union leader said. “After reviewing all the books, we truly believe they can start with a 2 (percent) for last year and 2 (percent) for this year.”

Members of the board of education, who are prohibited by law from responding during the public comment period, addressed the protest during their open comments at the end of the meeting.

Board president Greg Silva talked about state funding.

“The school districts aren’t really getting any increase in funds,” Silva said. “What it all boils down to is Sacramento smoke and mirrors, as usual.”

Board clerk Gregg Crandall was disappointed to address an almost empty room after all the union members left shortly after the beginning of the meeting.

“If you want to stand up and sling mud, stick around and hear what I’ve got to say,” Crandall said. “Some of us don’t even have kids in the district, and we’re still here because we care about every employee, and for someone to stand up and tell me that I’m bullying them, how dare you.”

James Vaughn, board vice president, said union members went from assertive to aggressive.

“The bullying thing was just over the top,” Vaughn said. “I know in my heart that over the years, a lot of the people that were here, we’ve saved their jobs by not being irresponsible with the money in the district. That’s why people still have a job.”

Vaughn criticized members for politicizing the negotiations.

“If you are assertive, you show up to more board meetings. You don’t show up once every 10 years,” he said. “I took furlough days when I was a teacher in my district. I saw the teachers here wouldn’t even take a furlough.”

Crandall summarized the board’s position.

“I want everybody to get a pay raise. I speak for all seven of us. But we can’t do it and bankrupt the district,” he said.

• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or mlangley@tracypress.com

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November 20, 2013
I fully support the unions. Compared to what teachers are paid, the Administrators are paid highly. It is not fair. I am a retired TUSD employee and feel for teachers like me who were paid and treated miserably while people like Franco and Paul Hall made big bucks for pushing their weight around. Shame on them.
November 21, 2013

Seems ta me yer gripe would be better addressed ta th School Board who hires people like Franco an Hill. After all, yer school board is elected by popular vote an thus answerable ta th public.

Frum readin elsewhere I wonder about yer qualifications ta teach bein that ya seem not apparently know how chairs of a commission are selected along with th qualifications of commissioners seated on a commission. With this observation in light, perhaps, just perhaps, th district paid ya ta teach based largely on what ya know an yer qualifications ta teach.

Another thang ta thank about is that as far as I know, no one is forcin anyone ta remain an teach. A teacher who is dissatisfied with his or her job in th district is free ta take another job in another district an still remain in thair union. I also am under th impression that teachin jobs are out thair as thair seems ta be a problem findin qualified teachers ta fill em.

Now please understand that I also believe that teachers are actually underpaid, in most cases but that has very little ta do with what people like Franco and Hall are makin. If ya really want that pay might I suggest ya get those qualifications fer yer self an compete fer those positions when th school board decides ta start th hiring process ta fill those positions?

It's easy ta sling mud but ya gotta be careful not ta splash it on yerself when ya do it.
November 18, 2013
Every time I read this article, new questions come to mind.

Mr Silva: Was it "Sacramento smoke and mirrors" when the funding suddenly became available for TUSD to restore the hours for the Public Information Officer back to full time?

Or when the Assoc Supt of Human Resources position was posted to be filled again?

Those are two examples of items cut or reduced that have been brought back, are there more? Yet no raises have been given, and our health care costs increased. The healthcare that the district commits us to.

Mr Vaughn - please do not come into the TUSD Board room and govern by comparison to the district you work for. Not all things are comparable.

Mr Crandall- please let the other board members speak for themselves.

No employee wants the district to go bankrupt. We simply want to be treated fairly- which means equally. No special groups or levels, nor by hidden agenda.

Negotiate on schedule, with integrity.

Honor the loyality that was displayed through the lean years. We trusted you then. It is your time to do the right thing.

Right now you are seeing frustration, not aggression.

November 18, 2013
TUSD Board members should educate themselves before they speak publicly.

Administrators took furlough days which amounted to a 5% cut.

Classified to furlough days.

Certificated (those terrible awefull teacher everyone hates)

Took a 2.5% cut when they gave back their staff development days.

EVERYONE has taken a HUGE pay decrease because of an AVERAGE 9.2% healthcare increase per year for the last 5 years.

Something the district has refused to address.

Please educate yourselves.
November 18, 2013

I don't hate teachers, but losing the 3 BONUS staff development days is very different than giving up actual work days that classified did. You retained your number of work days.

I agree, I am waiting for the Board to acknowledge how the District signs a contract with CVT that requires every fulltime employee to a health care plan and then does not increase the district paid portion to cover even half of it, let alone provide at least one cost free plan.

If a fulltime employee's spouse receives benefits, the TUSD employee still must pay for a plan; there is no opt out option. That is how the pay has been reduced year after year for district employees.

I'd also like the Board to address how there is still one section of employess that were untouched; those that are not administrators, but are management employees. They belong to the TSMA bargaining unit, but slipped by any type of furlough days or pay reduction.

November 17, 2013
Point of order ta Crandall an Vaughn

I remind ya, th schools an th entire district are funded by public monies paid fer in th form of property taxes an in some cases Mello-Roos taxes.

These taxes are levied on th property owners regardless if they have children or not.

That bein th case, those members of th public, th ones that are payin taxes that end up runnin th schools; have a right ta attend all OPEN school board meetins ANY TIME they desire an as often or in-often as they desire an you two have absolutely no right ta say anythang about thair "politicizing" or number of times they elect ta do so.

Remember, both of ya are fillin elected positions so POLITICS is definitely involved. Had I been in attendance when th two of ya made yer bullyin an belittlin statements ya would have gotten an earfull frum me.

As ta Nelson's, "“Teachers teach because they love it. We definitely don’t teach because of the money,” I have th followin response.

Fer th most part, it's an accurate statement. But let's be honest here, we both know some tenured teachers, along with some non-union school administrators that shouldn't be teachin an th only reason they are are cus of union rules.
November 16, 2013
“If you want to stand up and sling mud, stick around and hear what I’ve got to say,” Crandall said. “Some of us don’t even have kids in the district, and we’re still here because we care about every employee, and for someone to stand up and tell me that I’m bullying them, how dare you.”

Mr. Crandall, I think it was more respectful for the employees to leave the meeting than to have you illegally respond. In essence, you were saved from yourself.

"How dare you?" - It is their right Mr. Crandall. They followed the protocol of a public meeting. You may not agree with the message, but the have every right sir.

"Stick around and hear what I've got to say", that sounds like an aggressive challenge. A part of the definition of bullying. (to use browbeating language or behavior; Merrian-Webster Dictionary)

Mr Vaughn: not only did Tracy teachers refuse furlough days, but management employees did too. Administrators and Classified employees were the only staff members to personally carry any of financial burden of the lean years. TUSD has a large percentage of employees that were completely untouched. So in absolute fairness, distribute raises to those that suffered first.
November 19, 2013
That was a bit frustrating to hear them say, "stick around and hear what we have to say", when they first told us they could "legally" NOT reply!
November 15, 2013
The union thugs were out in force this week. They also turned up in the industrial area on MacArthur. They demonstrate the bully characteristics they accuses other of, as witnessed that day. Here they were peddling to illegals and shoving demands of unionization Of a local small business. Beware fellow Tracy residents the real bullying begins. Welcome to Progressive Liberalism. #righttowork
November 16, 2013
Thugs? Seriously?! I think that's quite an exaggeration.

A group of people simply holding signs is not thugs. There was nothing aggressive about their actions.
November 15, 2013
I'm sorry, It was mostly Classified employees there and we did take work furloughs. The library techs also took getting their (our) hours reduced. After being promised in board minutes after the proposition we would be restored. Which we have not been restored. All the librarians in the Tracy School district went from working full time to part time. It's a shame when our students can't go into a library at their own school because it's closed! The Library techs make an effort to make the board meetings, I personally ask for our hours to be restored constantly at board meetings. The Library is an essential part of the students learning. We need our hours back to help all the students of TUSD!

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