June 20, 2012 – Today’s Big Story is the deal announced yesterday between the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) and the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). Negotiations over the past three weeks produced a proposed settlement that would purportedly save (SDUSD) $68 million, return 1372 pink slipped teachers to classrooms in September, defer a series of pay raises promised by the district two years ago, and extend five unpaid furlough days for an additional two years. Two weeks of additional furlough days would be added next year if two new state tax measures fail in November’s general election. The anticipated settlement comes just days before the Board of Education is scheduled to adopt a final budget for the 2012-13 school year. It must be supported by more than 50 percent of union members, plus school board approval. The SDEA will begin a campaign this week to educate teachers about the agreement via phone calls, electronic posts and meetings. One gets the sense from press accounts that this is all but a done deal…
But wait a minute!… The Breakfast Club Action Group, a dissident teachers group spawned by concerns that the SDEA leadership was being less than forthright with the rank and file union members, is crying foul. Saying that the SDEA leadership approved the pact in a session closed to membership, the group posted an essay on its website calling the proposal a “horrible deal” that amounts to a 17.42 % pay cut and disputing the claim that the number of rescinded pink slips is real. Vowing to mount a campaign to “Just Say No”, the group is seeking to maintain the current closed contract, fight to get layoffs recalled the right way, and put the decision-making power of the union back in the hands of the union’s membership. A copy of the tentative agreement between SDUSD and SDEA is here. To see the details of Breakfast Club Action Group’s dissent go here.
City Attorney gets judicial smack down on pensions measure…. The California Court of Appeals has issued a unanimous ruling allowing the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), which oversees the state’s collective-bargaining laws, to proceed with the adjudication of unfair-labor-practice complaints against the City of San Diego by four employee unions. At issue is the question of whether or not Proposition B, a measure redefining the City’s pension plans passed by 66% of voters in the primary election, was legally placed on the ballot as a “private citizen” initiative. Although it was ostensibly sponsored by three members of the pro-business and very Republican Lincoln Club, the City’s unions are arguing that the measure was really the handiwork of elected officials including San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, City Councilman Kevin Falconer and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Government sponsorship of an initiative would have triggered automatic labor negotiations by State law, since employee compensation was at the heart of the matter.
The City Attorney argued via a petition to the Court of Appeals that the ballot measure was sponsored by “private citizens fed up with the ever rising pension costs.” We’ll let San Diego City Beat, which has an excellent report on the situation take it from here:
Goldsmith has leveled allegations of bias against PERB, telling a local conservative radio talk-show host that PERB’s a “Mickey Mouse Star Chamber” that’s “owned and operated by labor unions.”
PERB General Counsel M. Suzanne Murphy took issue with Goldsmith’s statements. In a Feb. 18 letter to the city attorney, she noted that there’s no evidence to support his claims of bias. Of the 19 unfair-labor-practices charges filed with PERB by labor unions since May 2011 (when Murphy was appointed general counsel), 13 were denied and two were withdrawn. PERB issued a formal complaint in only four cases (one of them being San Diego’s).
“While you are, of course, free to exercise your free speech rights,” Murphy wrote, “I believe some of your rhetoric… is truly unbecoming of a City Attorney and officer of the court, and inconsistent with the civility rules and policies of the San Diego Superior Court. I hope you will agree with me that civil litigation should, indeed, be conducted ‘civilly.’”
At the June 13 hearing, Justice Alex McDonald also took issue with Goldsmith’s claim that PERB’s actions so far indicate bias. It’s PERB’s role to make an initial determination on the merits of an unfair-labor-practices charge, McDonald said.
This is just the beginning of a long series of court battles that are likely to mire Proposition B in suits and counter-suits for years to come.
Showdown at the Issa corral…. House Republicans led by Rep. Darrell Issa are charging head first into their most direct conflict with the Obama administration over the extent of executive branch power, as they prepare to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress on Wednesday. At issue are documents detailing what the Justice Department knew about the Fast and Furious program, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives operation that put guns into the hands of Mexican cartels. Holder and Issa have been at loggerheads over what documents were relevant and when they would be made available to Congress.
Romney to get more company on the campaign trail… Planned Parenthood’s action fund is sending a costumed package of birth control dubbed “Pillamina” on the road with Mitt Romney to highlight his opposition to President Obama’s birth control coverage provision. In a statement introducing Pillamina, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards noted that her organization wants to emphasize the fact that birth control is “an economic issue for women — period. That’s something that President Obama clearly understands, and that Mitt Romney simply doesn’t.” Romney has said that he opposes requiring insurers to offer birth control coverage without additional co-pays.
On This Day…In 1955 The AFL and CIO agreed to combine names and a merge into a single group. In 1967 Muhammad Ali was convicted of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. The conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000 the Ronetteswere awarded $2.6 million in back earnings from Phil Spector. New York judge Paula Omansky ruled that the legendary producer had cheated them out of royalties.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee (10445 Mission Gorge Rd.abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm
Feed Your Brain… Voice of San Diego’s One Voice at a Time live conversation series kicks off with former City Councilwoman Donna Frye starting at 6:30 at Bird’s Surf Shed (1091 West Morena Blvd). Ms Frye is also donating six pieces of her original (election inspired) artwork for a silent auction. Proceeds will benefit VOSD. General admission is $5 for this debut event. RSVP’s are requested.
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.
Anna Daniels says
Doug, I would add to On This Day: On this day in 1947, President Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act, the most odious piece of labor legislation in the country’s history. Three days later, congress overrode the veto. Truman’s veto message is worth reading-
“The bill is deliberately designed to weaken labor unions. When the sponsors of the bill claim that by weakening unions, they are giving rights back to individual workingmen, they ignore the basic reason why unions are important in our democracy. Unions exist so that laboring men can bargain with their employers on a basis of equality. Because of unions, the living standards of our working people have increased steadily until they are today the highest in the world.”