Teachers claim intimidation, terminations and demotions during Neighborhood House Association contract negotiations for fair wages and benefits.
By Rebecca Garcia / SEIU Local 221
On Friday, July 25, Head Start teachers represented by SEIU Local 221 and community supporters joined together to protest the unfair treatment by Neighborhood Housing Association (NHA) CEO Rudolph A. Johnson.
NHA hosted the 2014 NHA Golf Gathering to celebrate 100 years of service. It was a star studded affair, including guest appearances by Steadman Graham, actor Chris Tucker and former Charger Pete Shaw. Celebrities and NHA donors played golf at the Rancho Bernardo Inn to celebrate the services that NHA has provided for several generations of San Diegans.
While wealthy donors paid upwards of $7,500 to attend the event, many NHA Head Start teachers are embroiled in a serious battle to advocate for fair wages and benefits for their families. Several of those Head Start teachers went to the fundraiser Friday to ask that they not face retaliation for exercising their right to negotiate a new contract with the goal of improvements in compensation and working conditions for employees.
Who are Headstart workers? They are the men and women who perform a wide range of jobs, including teaching, providing assistance to Head Start families, transporting and feeding Head Start children and keeping Head Start centers clean and safe. Each Head Start employee provides a vital service to economically disadvantaged families in San Diego.
Over the last several months, NHA managers have developed a pattern of intimidation and threats to Head Start teachers. Since contract negotiations began this year, the number of terminations, suspensions and demotions have tripled. These disciplinary actions have coincided with Head Start teachers requesting to reopen their contract. These retributions are attacks on workers who are exercising their right to collectively bargain a fair contract.
“As Head Start teachers, we are the front-lines in creating a safe, productive learning environment for the next generation of children. It is shocking that an organization celebrating 100 years of service to the community would attempt to punish teachers simply for wanting to negotiate a fair contract,” said Belvia Gipson, a Head Start teacher for over 15 years.
The group has called upon Johnson and those who attended Friday’s event to stop intimidation tactics and negotiate in good faith. They peacefully distributed leaflets to attendees with the hope that they would ask CEO Rudolph Johnson to stop unfair treatment and retaliation.
Their trip was brief, but effective. Belvia Gipson, who has been a Head Start teacher for over 15 years and an employee of NHA for over 19, was confronted by a NHA staffer who told her she had no right to be at the event, “I work for NHA” she stated calmly, leaving the NHA staffer baffled before he quickly escorted the protestors off the premises.
Correction: This original post incorrectly implied that only Belva Gipson was escorted from the premises. All of the protestors were escorted from the premises.
Aurora A. Figueroa says
I was a teacher for NHA for a period of 5 years, I work in the same center for the 5 yr period at Webster Head Start. Me and the staff suffered many humiliations, intimidations’ harassment and discrimination by site supervisor Claudette Blackman. Due to all the harassment and humiliations I requested a transfer to another site due to harassment and no teacher support. To my surprise and without notice I was informed by site supervisor Claudette Blackman about a meeting at the area 2 office. I was terminated for speaking out against Blackman, and HR set me up without warning. All my performance evaluations were in good standards. Other teachers that I know were set up too and terminated in a familiar way. This is a very corrupted company because its easy for NHA to makeup paperwork and throw u out from your job if you or anyone complaint against NHA.
Too many donors, they don’t even know what we went through. This program should be operated by the San Diego Unified School District because its operated by corrupt and racist people. You know what donors? NHA site supervisors and area directors violate their staff human rights, NHA HR staff hire mostly minorities single mothers, so they pay them cheap. Furthermore, they encourage supervisors and center directors to document false declarations against people who speak out, so NHA fire them. They say “She’s a troubles maker”. This verbal harassment is very common among center directors, and area directors from NHA, “If you don’t want to do your job? There is a long waiting list of applicants waiting to do this job”. In fact, Head Start teachers and staff are economically in disadvantage. I wish SDUSD takes the NHA Head Starts funding from the Federal Government.
I strongly agree on the last two comments posted in this article, as a taxpayer, I’m appalled NHA is still a grantee. Never in my career have I seen more gross unprofessionalism, nepotism and incompetence. I have always strongly felt that the School Districts out of it. These multigenerational leeches are clearly just milking the system for freebies. I hope one day that NHA IS TRULY EXPOSED FOR IT SHODDY PRACTICES. It’s a travesty and a disgrace to San Diego. I demand an investigation to all the staff and teachers that have been wrongfully terminated in the past years without cause, just because they are doing their jobs to report site supervisors, area site supervisors to higher management
AFYER READING THIS ARTICLE I GOT FLASBACKS IN REFERENCE TO WHAT I WENT THROUG WHEN WORKING FOR NHA IN ADMINISTRATION IN ONE OF THEIR AREAS. I WAS FACED WITH A VERY CORRUPTED INCIDENT FROM HR WHERE THEY WANTED ME TO FALSIFY SOME FEDERAL DOCUMENTS AND SIGN THEM. I REFUSE TO SIGN AND NEVER IN MY MIND DID I EVER THOUGHT THID WOULD COST ME MY JOB FOR NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE SIGNING OG THESE DOCUMENTS, I HAD SEEN MANY UNWRONGFULL PAPERWORK CLAIMING FOR OTHER EXPENSES TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT THIS COMPANY DOES FORGING DOCUMENTS SO WELL THAT THEY WILL NEVER GET INVESTIGATED FOR THEIR CORRUPTED ACTS…ALL I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH SUCH FRAUD CAUSE BY THIS NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE HEAD START. NOT ONLY DO THEY COMMIT THIS KIND OF FRAUDULENT ACTS BUT YET THE SUPPORT THE AREA DIRECTORS AND SITE SUPERVISORS GET FROM HR TO DO WRONG TO CENTER STAFF IF THEY MAKE SOME KIND OF COMPLAINT, THAT’S A GOOD CAUSE FOR TERMINATION.