CVEU June 2017 End of School Newsletter
Dear CAVA Colleague,
It was great to see so many CVEU members wearing their union pins at the end of year activities and graduations. We were especially happy to see over 100 high school teachers attend our first lunchtime meeting last week that took place in a Blackboard room. Due to the great turnout, we will be scheduling more lunchtime meetings next year.
We wanted to send you a final update before we break for summer vacation. Below is a bargaining update as well as answers to some frequently asked questions that have come in over the past few weeks. Over the summer, your CVEU Board and Reps will be working hard planning for the 2017-18 school year and we will update you with any pertinent information. If your RLT or RES team does not currently have a rep assigned to it and you might be interested in supporting your team please contact Michelle Thornburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, feedback, or if you want to get involved in your union, please contact us at email@example.com.
Last week, on June 19th, April Warren sent a bargaining update through email to all staff. CVEU addressed many of the points in our June 8th update, however, in an effort to ensure CVEU’s position is clear and to respond to member questions in regards to CAVA’s s update, we wanted to specifically respond to a few items.
During this negotiation session, CVEU had presented salary comparisons to demonstrate to the CAVA administration why their proposed salary was not sufficient for our members. The salary comparisons provided to CAVA were pulled from school districts that CAVA has charters through.Teachers hired at CAVA are highly qualified teachers, credentialed by the state of California. As such, comparisons to other certificated teachers located in districts where our students reside are viable and logical comparisons. We invited and encouraged CAVA admin to present their own salary comparisons if they disagreed with ours and look forward to seeing their salary comparisons.CVEU first proposed our salaries article in September 2016.
CVEU also provided salary comparisons that demonstrated how little CVEU members are paid on a daily basis compared to certified staff at school districts were CAVA has charters (please see graph below). CAVA’s school year is currently 215 days, a standard school year for certified staff is 185, due to our low wages and extended year CVEU demonstrated that CAVA requires teachers and staff to work more days for less money. Sadly this information shows that not only are CAVA’s highly qualified educators working for less pay annually, they are also working more days. Your CVEU bargaining team proposed in our work year article that members should be held to a school year with 200 work days and have a starting pay of $51,000.00. This reduction in work days combined with a higher salary, as proposed in our article on salaries, would translate into a real benefit for our members. Please see our proposed Salary Article in SharePoint or click Proposed Salary and Benefits Article.
Lastly, In an effort to reflect the valid concerns of our members CVEU did not include merit based pay because CAVA has demonstrated that merit pay is not a reliable source of compensation. CVEU would prefer that CAVA reward their staff with a structured and transparent method of compensation in the form of a tiered salary schedule that is consistent. CAVA’s proposed merit pay clause included a disclaimer that it would not be guaranteed. CVEU members are requesting a more stable salary schedule with raises we can count on.
Currently, CVEU has filed an Unfair Labor Practice through the Public Employee Relations Board against CAVA for not following through on last year’s merit-based pay raise. While we believe a more reliable pay scale should be in place until that time we highly encourage CAVA to follow through with their promise of a merit-based pay raise for the 2016-2017 school year.
As we enter into the Mediation phase of contract negotiations, CVEU joins CAVA administration in the hopes that this next phase of mediation will ultimately lead to a fair contract.
It has recently been brought to our attention that teachers were advised by the administration last semester about how to curve their students’ grades to make up for issues with Summit courses. Some concerns have been raised about this practice, as well as about the way the Summit courses were introduced to both teachers and students. In an effort to avoid future complications, we are interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences concerning the introduction of the Summit courses as well as any related grading issues or pass rates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns, insights, or questions.
Why do we stay with CAVA?
As we finish up another year with CAVA, many of us are heading into the Summer asking ourselves, "Why do I stay with CAVA?". Many of us feel undervalued and overworked. Many of us feel under-appreciated and stressed out. Many of us are perpetually frustrated with administration's insistence that CAVA teachers should simply be thankful for the ability to work from home, and that any salary comparisons to our brick and mortar teaching peers are unwarranted.
So, why do we stay with CAVA?
The answers that we have heard are complicated, heartfelt, and authentic. Most of us stay with CAVA primarily because we truly want this to work. We truly believe that CAVA has the potential to be a great school. We are hopeful that the administrative missteps will cease, and that our experience as teaching professionals will be counted on to help make decisions that actually help our students succeed. We have a long way to go in order to make these hopes real.
There will be potential opportunities in the coming months to speak with news outlets, other teaching professionals, and families about the many problems with this school. While it is extremely important to identify and explain the many problems with this school, it's also important to identify that we are fighting to make this school reach its potential. We are fighting to change how decisions are made without teacher input. We are fighting to make CAVA a school of which families and teachers are proud.
So if the opportunity does present itself in the coming months to speak to the many ways in which CAVA is falling short, let us not forget to address these issues from a place of trying to make CAVA better and to make CAVA finally live up to its potential.
Did You Know?
Under the Educational Employment Relations Act, which governs labor relations for public schools (including charter schools) in California:
Question: Should I sign the contract sent from Casey for 2017-18?
Answer: Yes, if you would like to return to CAVA next year, sign your contract right away.
Question: Will we receive retroactive pay once the contract is settled?
Answer: Retroactive pay is a negotiated item and this will be determined during bargaining.
Question: Did all employees receive a raise this year?
Answer: Yes, all staff should have received at least a 2.5% increase over last year's contracted rate. Please double check this on your contract as we have heard reports from some members that mistakes were made on current contracts.
Looking Forward to 2017-18
Wishing you a peaceful and restful summer!
The CVEU Organizing Committee
CVEU June 2017 Newsletter
Dear CAVA Colleague,
It is almost time to wrap up another school year and we hope you have some fun plans for this summer. CVEU will be working hard over the summer planning for the 2017-18 school year and our newly elected President, Brianna Carroll will be attending the CTA conference in San Jose in July.
We encourage you to wear your CVEU button to any end of year events, such as high school graduations, 8th grade promotions, PDs and other live events. This shows your support of the union and your desire for a fair contract.
Below are some of the highlights from the 2016-17 school year, a bargaining update, answers to your frequently asked questions and more. If you have any questions, feedback, or if you want to get involved in your union, please contact us at email@example.com.
2016-2017 CVEU Highlights
September 2016: CVEU began bargaining its first contract with CAVA administration.
December 2016: High school administration requested a meeting with CVEU regarding their desire to change the spring semester schedule.
January 2017: CVEU members met in-person in Anaheim with our sister union, IQTA (IQ Academy union).
February: Laid off teachers were given an additional 4 days of pay due to efforts at the bargaining table.
March 2017: CAVA requested to settle a ULP with CVEU. CVEU created and collected data via a survey for bargaining purposes.
April 2017: CAVA teachers presented a Collective Voice letter to administration signed by nearly 200 teachers. The bargaining team presented data from our member survey to CAVA administration in a highly strategic contract bargaining session.
May 2017: CVEU held its first election of officers. CVEU members spoke to parents and teachers at testing sites regarding union efforts. Teachers began receiving contracts for the 2017-18 school year.
June 2017: First time elected officers and representatives met in-person in Los Angeles in conjunction with the CTA State Council.
Administrative Union Training
In addition to the above, CVEU hosted 4 Town Hall meetings for its’ members, issued a monthly newsletter, held many phone banks and most importantly halted several attempts at changes to our work day. We are proud of these accomplishments and will continue to work hard on our members’ behalf next school year. If you have any ideas of what you would like to see from CVEU in the future, please contact us as all opinions are welcome.
As part of a settlement between CAVA and CVEU in relation to an unfair labor practice filed by CVEU, CAVA administration agreed to attend management training on collective bargaining law and best practices for positive labor/management relations in charter schools. CVEU received a letter from CAVA's lawyer, Jim Young on May 15th stating that CAVA administration completed this training. We were sent a copy of the training slides, which addressed best employer practices for positive labor relations, summaries of unfair labor practices, rights of employees and employee organizations, and the duty to bargain in good faith. Included in the training was the specific acknowledgement of our rights as CAVA teachers to organize, form, join and participate in protected union activities.
For a copy of the slides that were presented during the training please find them on the Union SharePoint site: https://k12inc.sharepoint.com/sites/WR/CMS/Union/_layouts/15/DocIdRedir.aspx?ID=MV6KCYFY2TN4-2042938214-192
Did You Know?
If you are called into a disciplinary meeting you have the right to have a union member present. In addition, if a meeting becomes disciplinary you have the right to stop the meeting and request it to be rescheduled with your union representative present. If you do not know who your union representative is, please email Michelle Thornburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teacher layoff Update
Last February many of us at CAVA were stunned to hear that teachers were being laid off with little to no warning. CVEU reacted immediately to this by reaching out to April Warren, CAVA’s Head of Schools, and demanding more information on this topic including school financial documents that lead to this decision and the process in which CAVA laid off teachers. The union also requested that CAVA cease laying teachers off until this information was provided to CVEU and a discussion concerning the layoffs took place. This pause in the layoff process gave teachers and extra four days notice before they were let go and it gave CVEU time to investigate the reasons behind the layoffs and to discuss layoff process and rehiring process with CAVA.
What we found was that CAVA was experiencing low enrollment and low attendance rates fall semester. Yet, CAVA continued transferring students to Insight School and did not take action to retain the enrolled students. We were informed that teachers were laid off based on both evaluations and hire date. CVEU stated and will maintain the stance that a reduction in the amount of money sent to K12, nearly 40% of CAVA’s total budget, needs to be made to ensure CAVA is providing our students with a teacher to student ratio that is beneficial to students.
April Warren informed us during a bargaining meeting that CAVA prioritizes rehiring teachers who have been laid off due to budget cuts. She stated that this just made sense because these teachers have already been trained. At a later meeting CVEU asked if teachers who were laid off were notified that new positions were open and April Warren did not give a clear answer. We asked teachers who were laid off if they were notified of the open teaching positions with CAVA and they informed us that they only received a link to edjoin with a notice that CAVA was opening positions for next year.
Unfortunately, we later found out that the teachers who applied for these positions were then turned down for the job. This is a clear indication that CAVA does not follow through with their promises to staff and that they are willing to let good teachers go with no intention of rehiring them.
This was a difficult time for the teachers who were laid off, students who were shuffled around without notice and for teachers who were left to pick up the pieces. At the last bargaining session we submitted an article detailing the layoff and rehiring procedures to CAVA administration as well as K12 administration. We believe that if teachers are being laid off for economic reasons, then there is no reason why they should not have their positions back once they are available again. In addition, there should be a transparent procedure to the layoff process with proper notice to teachers and students. CVEU recently submitted a letter to April Warren confirming that two teachers who were laid off were notified by CAVA that they were not being considered for their former position. The letter also stated that two other teachers who applied for their former positions have yet to receive a response from CAVA. Lastly, CVEU requested a list of all teachers who were laid off, including their contact information.
How Does a Strike Happen?
Contract bargaining is an extensive process. Bargaining in “good faith” is important as it means that both parties are willing to come to an agreement. If bargaining comes to a point where both sides have exhausted all opportunity for movement, the parties will declare Impasse, which triggers a mediator for bargaining. In Mediation, a neutral third party is brought in to push both sides to reach a compromise. A mediator is simply an advisor and cannot make decisions for either side. If mediation fails to break the impasse, the mediator will release the parties to Fact Finding. In fact finding, each side makes a presentation on their behalf to the three person panel (one person for each side and one neutral party). The fact finders analyze the facts of the bargaining process with the goal of recognizing a potential compromise and will make a recommendation in a report. Neither party is bound by these recommendations. Once the report is given, the employer can implement their final offer. If the final offer is not accepted, the union may then strike.
CVEU Bargaining Update (May 3rd)
The information below is from our May 3rd bargaining session. An update from our session on June 6th will be sent to membership soon.
During each negotiation session, articles that represent different areas of our employment contract are presented by each side to provide a starting point for further negotiation. At this stage, we have nine articles still in the process of negotiation, and nine articles that have been agreed upon and are awaiting final ratification. Charter School Rights, Evaluation Procedures, Grievance Procedure, Leaves of Absence, Organizations and Security Dues, Recognition, Safety, Savings Clause, and Union Rights have all been completed. This leaves some of the really tough articles still in process. At this point, almost every article is now in CAVA’s court. Your CVEU union is still working on some of the language for our Layoffs article, and we were given a very loosely constructed Benefits article during last bargaining session on May 3rd. It is not clear if it is the finished product or if CAVA will continue to improve on that article in the future. That leaves CAVA holding the following articles; Assignments and Vacancies, Caseload/Workload, Discipline and Dismissal, Employment Status, Salaries, and Work Day/Work Year. Term will be determined at the end of negotiations. We are hoping to see multiple articles from them at our next bargaining session on May 31, 2017. If not multiple articles, then movement on one of the biggest articles, such as salary, would be encouraging.
Update on June 6th bargaining was presented in video format in the Facebook Watercooler and will be emailed out to all CVEU members soon. If you have not done so already please ask to join the Facebook Watercooler for the latest information on what is happening at CAVA.
California Virtual Educators United (CVEU)
“Leading is not the same as being the leader. Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.”