ayden Gore, president and Roxanna Sepehri, vice president of High Tech Education Collective cut the "Congratulations" cake at the San Diego Education Association on Feb. 2, 2023.
(Left to right) Hayden Gore, president of High Tech Education Collective, and Roxanne Sepehri, vice president, cut a cake at the San Diego Education Association headquarters in Mission Valley on Feb. 2, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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Our reporters were on fire this week.  

As Jesse Marx and Jakob McWhinney reported in two separate stories this week, two important labor unions in the county made some big moves.  

First, the largest police union just went through a leadership shake-up. As Marx writes, “the election of new union officers signals a change in the union’s politics and approach.” 

And one of the largest charter school networks in San Diego finally has a contract with its teachers’ union. The process was long, and not always pretty, but there is now a contract that gives educators benefits, workplace improvements and more.  

Here’s what you need to know while sipping on your cafecito today.  

Big Union Energy 

The San Diego County Deputy Sheriff’s Association’s Board of Directors recently voted to replace their president and vice president. The leadership shakeup could affect the union’s upcoming contract negotiations and which politicians it backs longer term. I tapped Marx, our associate editor, to better understand what this change means.  

Andrea: This shake-up happened after the union’s last election. What does that say about how members were feeling about the current direction of the union?  

Jesse: The members don’t vote on the leadership positions of the board, but they did elect a new director a few weeks back who tipped the scales in favor of a shake-up, so I think it’s fair to say the viewpoints of the members themselves are instructive.  

We know, thanks to an internal survey of the union’s members in 2021 leaked to the press, that the dominant complaints inside the department are related to staff shortages and low morale. There was also plenty of opposition to vaccine mandates and basically no support for meaningful reforms. My own sources were telling me that a lot of the members blame Democrats for all of that, even though the vaccine issue is behind us.   

Andrea: How will this impact future contract negotiations and endorsement decisions?

Jesse: The Deputy Sheriff’s Association has always been a right-leaning union and it will continue to be that way. But the fact the union in more recent years has backed a mix of Democrats and Republicans sent a signal that its politics were becoming more practical than partisan as the county’s demographics changed. They could have stood behind former Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in 2018, for instance, but jumped ship for Democrat Nathan Fletcher once his victory looked to be a secured. And sure enough, they were right.   

One of the points I tried making in my piece is not that the union will never endorse another Democrat — it might — but that grievances brought out during the pandemic about staffing and vaccines are clearly having an effect on the leadership. Something similar happened at the San Diego Police Officers Association about a year ago.  

Of course, the problem is that the people now in charge of the union aren’t saying much. The new vice president told me that the change doesn’t necessarily mean a more adversarial relationship with the Board of Supervisors, but after seeing the results of the internal survey, I’m skeptical of that.  

Read Jesse’s story here. 

Hayden Gore, president and Roxanna Sepehri, vice president (left) of High Tech Education Collective celebrate after the votes were counted from union members to ratify the contract at the San Diego Education Association on Feb. 2, 2023.
Hayden Gore, president and Roxanne Sepehri, vice president (left) of High Tech Education Collective celebrate after the votes were counted from union members to ratify the contract at the San Diego Education Association on Feb. 2, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

And … McWhinney, our education reporter, has followed High Tech High’s contact negotiations for months. He shared a little insight with me.  

Jakob: I think between the University of California strike and contract negotiations, and the unionization efforts and a number of charter schools in the San Diego region, it seems like organized labor is having a moment, especially in education.  

If you take the word of Hayden Gore, the president of High Tech Education Collective, the union High Tech high teachers organized, this contract is not only a victory for them, but also represented “hope and inspiration for other schools and charter schools throughout the state and the country.” But other local charter schools that have unionized, like Gompers, have faced turmoil like decertification votes. Ultimately, I think it’s a little too early to tell, but there’s certainly momentum building for unions in charter schools. 

Read Jakob’s story here.  

Chisme to Start Your Week  

Lisa Halverstadt reported that a city of San Diego councilman is pitching offering shelter and safe camping options to homeless residents in Balboa Park – those services would pave the way to banning camping on public property. Read that story here.  

It has been two weeks since residents in the Grant Hill neighborhood got new green bins for food and yard waste. Environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer spoke to residents who were either confused or excited about the new collection. The city is slowly working to roll these out all over. Read more about what the residents had to say here.

Julio Gomez stands near a new waste bin holding his kitchen pails in Grant Hill on Jan. 19, 2023.
Julio Gomez stands near a new waste bin holding his kitchen pails in Grant Hill on Jan. 18, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

With all the drama at the San Digeo City Council last week – click here if you need a refresher – fellow managing editor Andrew Keatts checked in with a person who is gunning to replace City Attorney Mara Elliott. Here’s what she had to say about her pursuit for the office

This week on the podcast, I spoke with San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer about homelessness, behavioral health and housing, and how the board can tackle those challenges. Listen to that episode here. (The interview starts around the 33-minute mark).  

And North County reporter Tigist Layne recounted her firsthand experience going out to count and survey Vista’s homeless population. The stories she heard on the street confirmed an increase in first-time homelessness and a lack of resources in that part of the region. Read more about what she experienced here.   

This month Voice of San Diego is celebrating its 18th birthday. It’s an exciting time for us because we are stepping into our new adult age, with an updated mission statement: Investigative journalism for a better San Diego. You can read more about our mission and what we stand for here. If you’d like to support us, you can donate here

Note from me: I’ll be off next Sunday.  

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She...

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