FACT: San Diego Education Association has lied to us, its members, from the beginning of “negotiations.” Not only did SDEA open our contract (which it promised it wouldn’t do), but a new and “improved” contract was negotiated for us. This fact alone proves that anything SDEA says/does cannot be trusted. Therefore, anyone who agrees to this simple fact alone should vote a big NO.

FACT: SDEA admitted that their phone survey was flawed, yet they used the “results” to determine that its members were willing to open negotiations.

FACT: Grades 4 through 12 have always have a “max” of 36 students in a classroom, although it often is higher, and because of that, a large number of teachers must be recalled to fill the empty positions. In effect, what this means is that more than 1,500 teachers actually being laid off is a lie in the sense that many must be rehired to fill the vacancies in grades 4-12.

FACT: SDEA and San Diego Unified School District both knew full well that our economy would not magically improve when our current contract was ratified two years ago, yet they agreed to it, a legally- binding document. A contract is a contract!

FACT: SDEA has negotiated away our restoration of the furlough days (a pay cut) and our raises. We’re going to need everything the district promised us in good faith for the upcoming 2013 contract renewal to avoid our benefits being reduced. With the current tentative agreement, we are giving up everything but our benefits.

FACT: There’s been a “threat” of more furlough days. This increase with our current furlough days will reduce our salaries by at least $5,000 to $8,000, and I don’t know of many teachers who have a stockpile of money lying around to subsidize this loss.

FACT: The general public has always viewed teachers as the “bad guys.” No matter what we do, this perception will not change. So why hasn’t SDEA done anything to rectify the public’s misconceptions? Shouldn’t that have been a major SDEA focus during these past two years?

FACT: I have two bachelor’s degrees, one master’s and 35 years of teaching experience. My sister has her bachelor’s and 20 years of work experience. She almost makes as much as I do at the highest step. She orders car parts for Nissan and I teach children. Teachers are NOT being paid what they are truly worth!

Even if the November initiative passes, we will not see a penny of it. The district will say that it needs to hold onto any revenues because of the possible mid-year cuts to the budget. Then there will be next year’s budget cuts, followed by further cuts, and on and on in an endless spiral.

Our raises have been deferred, and they will continue to be deferred because an economy does not bounce back in a couple of years. It appears to me that teachers who are planning to vote “yes” on this have forgotten what they learned in their basic economics class in high school.

SDEA has singlehandedly shown the world how ineffective and useless a union can be. It’s no wonder that many people believe that unions should be eliminated. We, the teachers, need to take our union back and show the public what a union in the right hands can accomplish.

In conclusion, I no longer trust our union, SDEA, to do right by its members, and, therefore, I will be voting “no” on this tentative agreement (but I would vote “yes” for a total recall of the current SDEA board).

Since SDEA has lost all trustworthiness, for legal reasons, I also believe that an uninvolved third party must oversee the verifying, collecting, and counting of votes since clearly SDEA has a conflict of interest.

Before you vote, please be sure to think about everything that is being said about SDEA, the district, and this tentative agreement! Being informed with all the facts will allow you to make the right choice!

Keith Wohlfarth is a teacher in San Diego Unified School District.

Want to contribute to discussion? Submit a suggestion to Fix San Diego.

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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