Mar.-Apr. 2019 Advocate: President’s Perspectives


Spring shines more daylight on contract negotiations, teacher activism

by Paul Rueckhaus, AFT 1493 President

My favorite part of Spring is the extra daylight. Daylight isn’t only good for our spirits, skin and bones. It’s also good for our institutions and democracies. As more daylight creeps into the day with the changing season, my perspective opens up, wanting to see more daylight in other areas as well.

As a bargaining unit, one of our main activities is, well, bargaining. Every three years we have this opportunity to open up our contract. In this opening, we illuminate elements of our work environment that are overlooked or need attention. Beyond compensation and benefits, issues such as workload, professional development, family medical leave, pay equity for laboratory units and pay equity for part-time faculty are all examples of burning issues concerning you, our membership, that can hide in plain site in the midst of the day-to-day grind.

Another illumination has come from the recent wave of labor activism, including strikes, from teachers and other public and private employee groups. Schools are institutions. And institutions can hide themselves from the very public that they are there to serve. As our teacher partners in Los Angeles and Oakland have both successfully ended strikes, they not only got “wins” for teachers and students. They shed light on numerous conditions from pay to class size to support services that are otherwise hidden from public view.

This light-shedding business will not end with the month of March. Be on the lookout for more reporting in this newsletter on class cancellations and the state of Professional Development funding in future issues.