Over 100 classified school employees came together in Kennewick, WA to participate in T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) Conference and step up as leaders in our union.
During workshops and trainings throughout the weekend, members from across Washington State shared their powerful experiences organizing and educating new members on how we WIN when we stick together, and how to tackle the challenges we face on the job.
Together, members grew as leaders in the labor movement, and took an active role in shaping a brighter future for working families in Washington.
Thank you to all of the amazing leaders who attended T.E.A.M. Conference 2016, and stay tuned for more information on next year’s conference and T.E.A.M. III!
“What you do matters. To SEIU, to the labor movement, and to the kids in your schools.
What you are doing is being noticed from the Washington on the west coast to the Washington on the east.”
– Former international Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union, addressing union leaders at PSE TEAM Conference.
It was a sea of blue as over 120 classified school employees picketed the Burlington-Edison school board meeting on Monday, May 23rd. School employees are concerned that as the district struggles to retain staff, students aren’t getting the quality services they deserve.
“A lot of those quality employees that have been here for so long are being left with no other choice but to go to other places to earn higher pay,” said Mary Lou Rodman, a 15-year employee of the Burlington-Edison School District. “We really can’t survive on what we are making. I can say that personally. I live paycheck to paycheck. I’m a single person and it is very very hard to be able to survive.”
After four months of negotiating their contract, school employees have been left waiting for a meaningful response as the district continues to cancel bargaining meetings. With no apparent answer or offer in sight, many longtime staff members are left wondering what to do as they took up picket signs to send a message to the district and the community.
“I love my job, but it’s hard to stay here,” said Rodman.
“We’ve gotten so far behind, added Lori Turner, a 27-year administrative assistant with the grounds/maintenance department. “I want to make this team strong and get this contract through. We can’t go backwards anymore.”
Both Rodman and Turner worry that if the district doesn’t offer its classified staff a livable wage increase to support their families, it’s the students in the district that will suffer. School districts in surrounding areas offer their employees higher wages for the same jobs, an appealing opportunity for employees who are struggling and often living in poverty.
“You’re losing all these people that have been here for so long that know how to take care of these kids and know how to do everything,” said Rodman. “If they leave, then you are bringing in people who are really beginners. You get somebody off the street.”
“I hope they listen and are able to help these people out,” said Dick Sanderson, a bus driver from neighboring Meridian School District and PSE Zone 8 Director who came down to support the Burlington-Edison employees. “Everybody has to survive.”
“Hopefully they took notice tonight that we’re not going to take a contract that’s not fair to all of us. It’s our turn,” said maintenance employee and PSE Chapter President Rey Salinas. “We need to get paid just like everyone else, so we can take care of our kids, and so we can take care of other people’s kids–which is what we are here for.”
The district and classified staff have their next bargaining session scheduled for Wednesday, May 25th.
Immediately after PSE organized a group of custodians at WSU-Pullman in October 2014, WSU unilaterally decided to reduce the wages of 34 of those custodians from Step M to Step L on the salary schedule, resulting in a significant loss of money for each employee. WSU did not give PSE notice or an opportunity to bargain the reduction in wages.
PSE promptly filed an unfair labor practice against WSU with PERC. The Hearing Examiner who first heard the case sided with WSU. On appeal, however, PERC overturned that decision and ruled in favor of PSE. In doing so, PERC ordered that WSU must give back pay to each of the 34 custodians who were affected, with interest, to make them whole. WSU must also post notices around campus stating that it violated the law. A full copy of PERC’s decision is attached.
“This is a great day for not only our members at WSU, but for all employees who choose to join a union,” said Jason MacKay, Higher Education Administrator. “This decision is so important because it preserves the rights of employees to collectively bargain over their wages, hours, and working conditions.”
This is a big victory for PSE and the rights of employees to collectively bargain their wages, hours, and working conditions!
President Obama and The White House launched Champions of Change in 2013, a program that recognizes outstanding individuals from across the United States who have made a change in the field in which they work.
Through our work with the National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU), two outstanding PSE members will receive this national recognition on May 11th, 2016 at The White House:
Career and Technical Education
Bethel School District
“As an integral part of the Career and Technical Education Department in the Bethel School District near Tacoma, Doris provides innovative career exploration opportunities in under-represented fields, like “Girls in Engineering and Technology,” as well as “Boys in Health Care.” Doris takes initiative to organize events that encourage non-traditional career paths, provides her students with real-world experience by taking them on field trips to worksites, and offers assistance in making the connection into higher education.”
Bethel School District
“The Bethel School District believes that digital learning compliments the excellent teaching and learning that is already happening in the classroom. Each day Edward Ammons, a Computer/AV technician in the Bethel Technology Department, models this belief and has for the past 22 years. His focus each day is to provide the students, staff, and teachers with technology expertise that supports a positive learning environment. He realizes the importance of keeping the technology running, otherwise the learning stops.”
The event will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ on Wednesday, May 11, at 2:00 PM ET. The program will feature remarks by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.
We will also be live tweeting the ceremony from Washington, D.C., so follow @PSEClassified on Twitter and join the celebration of these leaders in education all this week using #WHChamps.
During our time in our nation’s capital celebrating the incredible work of Doris and Ed, we will meet with members of Congress to discuss and lobby issues important to all classified employees, including funding for key educational programs. Take a look at some facts about our union that we will be sharing with lawmakers during the week of May 9th.
The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU) also includes the California School Employee Association, Minnesota School Employee Association, SEIU Local 284 (Minnesota), the National Education Association, and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees.
Being a part of this coalition gives a powerful, united voice to PSE members in the other Washington. It is also a chance for national and local unions to work together and share issues affecting other states and identify common concerns and problems facing classified employees.
PSE Members Donna Young from Wenatchee School District and Cindy Barlette from Edmonds School District were selected as 2016 Regional Classified School Employees, and were recognized for their years of dedication and passion for their students and their communities.
Congratulations to Donna and Cindy, and to all of the outstanding classified employees who were recognized for their vital contributions to Washington’s schools.
Christine Williams, bus driver in the Enumclaw School District, is a 2016 recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for the state of Washington!
Nominated by Jobyna Nickum, Enumclaw Senior Center, Christine has been recognized for her outstanding volunteer efforts to address needs in our community through Neighbors Feeding Neighbors – Senior Meals. Christine was honored at the Executive Mansion in Olympia on April 11th.
From the recognition ceremony program:
Christine Williams is a community member who stepped forward when she heard of a need in her community. Meals on Wheels are frozen meals in King County. Christine says, “Enumclaw is NOT a frozen community.” Christine works full-time driving school bus for special needs children and has been a foster mom for 23 children. Since January 1, 2013, she has taken this new program, Neighbors Feeding Neighbors – Senior Meals, and oversees recruiting and training volunteers and fundraising and has been the “instigator” to deliver over 20,000 hot meals to homebound seniors in the Enumclaw community. As a volunteer, she is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure that this program truly lives up to its mission, “No senior will be hungry to experience social isolation.” To date, no other community in King County offers a hot home-cooked meal delivery throughout the week with friendly volunteers. All overseen and organized by a volunteer – Christine Williams!
Congratulations Christine, and thank you for your outstanding service!
As Jerry Ottosen closes the door to the custodian’s closet, a student down the hallway bellows, “Jerry!” and gives him double thumbs-up with a huge smile. Jerry waves and grins back at the student, and wheels his vacuum down the hallway into a classroom to continue his daily cleaning routine.
It’s clear that this is a common occurrence, with staff and students alike greeting Jerry with enthusiastic gratefulness. His work can be seen daily at Liberty High School in the squeaky clean floors, spotless walls and freshly vacuumed carpets. He’s been an employee of the district for 38 years, and graduated from the school himself in 1976.
“Jerry is an institution around here,” says Principal Aaron Fletcher. “He works hard, is well liked, and makes sure things are clean. If there’s a dirty job, it’s ‘gloves up’ and he digs right in.”
Humble and soft-spoken, Jerry’s outstanding work lead Principal Fletcher to nominate him for the CINTAS Janitor of the Year Award. Late last month, Jerry found out that he was selected as one of 10 national finalists for this prestigious honor. If he wins, the top prize is $5,000 in cleaning supplies for his school, and $5,000 for him to keep.
“It’s just outstanding,” says newly-elected PSE Liberty Chapter President Joe Jovanovich. “Jerry has done a great job to get notoriety in this way. Everybody’s excited and getting their buddies to vote.”
Messages from past students have been pouring in—countless emails and posts on Facebook raving about how fantastic Jerry is, and how they are all voting for him to win. Current students have been showing their support too–on his door hangs a hand-painted sign from the ASB that reads, “Congrats, Jerry!” in bright letters.
“I was shocked, but I’m really glad to be nominated,” says Jerry. “It just makes you feel good. It’s like they’re saying, ‘I do a good job. Thank you for cleaning our school’. I’m very glad I was nominated.”
Leaders don’t have to be members of the board or in an elected position. True leadership takes many forms, and doesn’t need a title. Jerry sets the example by his dedication to service to his school and his community’s kids.
“If we didn’t have clean desks or classrooms, students could get sick and not have a safe learning environment. Classified staff are just as important as teachers,” adds Principal Fletcher, who has enthusiastically taken to Twitter to spread the word about the great work that his staff has been doing.
“I’ve seen three generations here,” says Jerry with a nostalgic smile as he reflects upon his nearly 40-year career. “Liberty has been my life.”
You can vote for Jerry as many times as you’d like up through April 15th at CINTAS.com/JOTY.
Susan Olson, a paraeducator and President of the Deer Park Paraeducators Chapter, sat down with Bud on KXLY Newsradio 920 to talk about Classified Public School Employee Week and the vital contributions that the 50,000 school support staff make to education in our state every day.
Listen to the full interview here:
PSE members had the opportunity to vote and help choose six delegates that will represent PSE at this year’s SEIU Convention in Detroit, MI.
Ballots were sent out on February 1, 2016, and the Elections Committee met on the last weekend of February for a ballot count and reached a final results on February 29, 2016.
Elected SEIU Convention 2016 Candidates (in alphabetical order)
I was elected by the zone council to complete the vacancy of Zone 6 director for PSE. It is an honor to hold this privilege in representing zone 6 members, and serving all members on the board of directors. Along with that responsibility, I have been assigned the chair of the ·sergeant-At-Arms committee.
I am in my 21st year at Tacoma School District. I am the chapter president and previously held positions as classification rep, vice-president, legislative and benefits rep. At the state level, I have attended Leadership Academy, TEAM, Legislative Conference, and served on various state committees. Advocating for PSE and members at lobby days, parades, rallies and serving disadvantage teenagers at the Auburn Teen Feed has been extremely rewarding.
I ask you place your trust in me to represent you at the SEIU convention. I love PSE, and believe to BE STRONG, I must BELONG at convention!
I am currently the Zone 1 Director, the Vice President of the Walla Walla Chapter, and the bylaws committee chair. I would like to attend the 2016 SEIU Convention because I have a passion for trade unionism. I feel that I will represent PSE well due to my skills when it comes to the written language as well as my understanding of legal texts.
Thank you for your consideration.
I would appreciate your vote to elect me as a delegate to represent you at the SEIU convention. I believe strongly in the importance of union wages and the educational focus of PSE. I appreciate the importance of paying for the higher wages and benefits we earn working in a union job and of being financially responsible with our members’ dues.I believe a strong SEIU makes for a strong PSE and strong communities and schools in Washington and across the nation.
I hold elected positions in my chapter and as zone director on the PSE board of directors. I am familiar with the rules and procedures governing proceedings that are necessary to be effective as a delegate. I will consider the motions, bylaw amendments, and business thoughtfully before voting. I will be a strong advocate and voice for the best interests of you and PSE. Thanks for your vote!
I am very dedicated union member. I am a strong advocate for our members. I have been active in our chapter for 15 years, building rep, classification rep, negotiations, trustee, insurance committee, IBN member, District Union Leader committee, Chapter President for 4 years. I have attended convention, leg conference, leadership classes. I have signed up and volunteered for state committees but unfortunately have not had that honor yet.
I have had the honor of attending a WEA unity conference in Maryland last September. Our local teachers union asked me to go as a PSE member along with other varying staff (district administrator, building administrator) from our district. The training I attended was about working collaborative on all levels within or district.
I have built strong connections with our members, district staff and also PSE state staff.
My name is Pam Stevenson and I am declaring my intent to be a delegate for the SEIU International Convention. Unions have provided for my family my entire life, and for us it means earning a fair wage and the benefit of health care for our family. Unions have given workers a stronger voice and it’s even more important that our voices are heard in today’s economy. I want to be one of those voices.
I am currently working for the Auburn School District as a Health Tech. I have served a variety of leadership positions in my local chapter over the last 12 years, serving as Para Rep, Chapter Secretary, Chapter Vice President and Grievance Officer and at the state level organizing and serving on the PSE Legislative Council, I am currently serving my second term on the Board of Directors for PSE as the Zone 7 Director.
Though currently working in Transportation, I also have 11 years’ experience as a Para-Ed and in Food Service-bringing to Convention a broad representation of our members and what they want from our union. I am a past President of our Washougal Chapter, past Treasurer and current Legislature Rep.- giving me the opportunity to be on many negotiation teams.
I have serve on our District’s Insurance committees and Chapter Scholarship committee. Volunteered for the informational Teachers’ picket/rally at Esther Short Park in Vancouver. Recently I volunteered for the Blitz-collecting commitments from fellow members to stand with our union, stressing the importance of COPE which amounted too many of the members my team spoke with, to enroll! I have attended our PSE convention many times and have been active in our Legislative Conferences for the past three years. Thank you for your consideration for me as a Delegate for the SEIU Convention.