Greetings to our members. Click on this post to see the pdf copy of the December President's Message. It was delivered to sites right before break, so if you did not get yours, you may read this important message here.
On October 22, the California Public Relations Board reached an important decision regarding the Petaluma City School District’s violations of employee rights. We want the community we serve to be aware of this decision and the impact of the school board’s questionable actions regarding this case.
The California Public Employment Relations Board has upheld their finding that Petaluma City Schools violated the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA). The case was originally decided in January 2018 when the District was found guilty of interfering with employee and organizational rights in 2014. Unfortunately, current school board members decided to use District funds and resources on legal services to appeal the PERB decision. When questioned by the Petaluma Federation of Teachers, Superintendent Gary Callahan left no doubt that it was the school board members who made the decision to appeal. Not only was this a misguided decision and a questionable use of valuable District funds, it makes it clear that the current school board has no interest in working with the Petaluma Federation of Teachers to improve relations. The District must now comply with the order from the State of California and post a Notice to Employees in a visible location at all work sites for no less than 30 work days, no later than November 5, stating they have violated the EERA. This PERB decision can only be appealed by the California Court of Appeal.
Election Day is almost here! We must continue to work to elect a school board that will help us support our students. If you haven't already done so, sign up for our Monday, November 5 Rally. Lets show our community that we are united in our efforts to elect Mady Cloud, Joanna Paun, and Caitlin Quinn.
July President’s Message
Happy Summer. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful summer break. I am taking some time to rest and recharge and I hope you are as well. We have much ahead. We are still in negotiations for the 2018-19 school year and there is a vital school board election in November.
Last week the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 holding that agency fee agreements are not constitutional in the public sector. In other words, public sector employees are no longer required to pay their fair share. Although we still must represent all employees, individuals can now choose to not pay dues. The goal of the people who brought this case to the Supreme Court was to destroy public sector unions and therefore take away our power. The media will have you believe that this is a foregone conclusion. The opposite is proving to be true.
As expected, the financial backers behind this case have begun the second part of their attack on organized labor. They are contacting union members and encouraging them to resign from their union with promises of an instant pay increase when you no longer pay union dues. The American Federation of Teachers is reporting that this plan is not working as members are standing with their union.
What does this mean for the Petaluma Federation of Teachers? PFT 1881 is a strong united union with a shared goal of working together to achieve the best possible education for our students as well as the best possible contract for our members. We have demonstrated our strength, resolve, and unity in the past and I am confident we will continue to do so. Any attempt to weaken or discourage us will fail.
May 30 was the last negotiation session before summer break. There were conversations on parity and stipends. In a effort to move things along, both the District and PFT agreed to return with contract proposals at our next session on August 6. In addition to August 6, negotiation sessions were scheduled for August 30th and September 19th.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 707-696-5118 if you have any comments, questions or concerns.
Happy Spring! I hope you have a wonderful Spring Break.
I will be going to Texas to care for my mother and
attending the California Federation of Teachers
convention in Costa Mesa March 23-25.
PERB ( Public Employment Relations Board) Update
The Federation received word on February 5 that a PERB
Administrative Law Judge had issued a proposed decision
regarding unfair labor practice charges originally filed in
2014. You may remember that the Federation filed
charges against the District regarding 1) getting
information in a timely manner and 2) the District
restricting our First Amendment Rights. The judge ruled
that the charges we filed were "proven by a
preponderance of the evidence adduced at the hearing."
In addition it was stated that a violation of the EERA
(Educational Employment Relations Act) had been found.
What does that mean? It means that the District has been
found to have committed an Unfair Labor Practice. PERB
proposed that the District " Cease and Desist " from
violating our First Amendment Rights and unreasonably
delaying requested information related to Collective
Bargaining. In addition, Petaluma City Schools would have
to post a notice of the PERB findings in a clearly visible
location at all work sites for no less than thirty days. This
ruling is vindication for the Federation and the struggles
we have had with the District since that time. We were
hopeful that this decision would end an ugly chapter in our
working relationship with the District. Sadly, the District
chose to appeal this decision and in doing so, they are
spending additional District funds on their legal expenses
as well as forcing the Federation to do the same. In
prolonging this decision, they are signaling that they do
not want to move forward towards a better working
relationship with us. We have asked the superintendent to
reconsider the District's decision to appeal this finding. I
will keep you updated as we learn more moving through
Janus vs American Federation of State, County, and
Municipal Employees Council 31 is a case that involves
the right of unions to collect fees from non union members
for the services of collective bargaining. In other words, a
member could opt out of paying dues and still receive
most the benefits of being a member. The case was heard
at the Supreme Court on February 26 and could overturn
over 40 years of labor law. It is an attempt by some very
wealthy people to weaken labor unions. The Supreme is
expected to issue a ruling sometime between April 15 and
June 30. The current political make up of the Supreme
Court leads experts to believe that they will rule against
organized labor. The same financial backers of this court
case have put over $80 million dollars in a campaign
meant to further weaken labor unions by reducing
membership. Currently in other areas around the country,
they are actively trying have members leave the union.
Groups are calling and even going door to door in an
attempt to encourage members to leave their union. I am
not overly concerned about the effects on us. We are
united and I expect that we will remain so. Just know that
you may be contacted by these paid union busters after
the Supreme Court rules.
The Negotiations Team met last week to discuss the
results of the sunshine survey and begin the work of
writing our opening letter. This is the first step in the
negotiations process. Our Chief negotiator Suzanne
Garcia, made sure the team was organized and ready.
This year we are able to open the three Articles listed in
our contract as well as two other Articles. The results of
the survey will be used to determine what additional
Articles we will open as well as guide our opening
proposals. The top concerns of our members were
maintaining parity, salary, class size, and maintaining the
right to participate in concerted activities. We will begin
negotiating with the District soon. Remember to check
your personal email for updates after each session.
Union Blue Tuesdays
It’s time to wear your PFT t shirt. Beginning March 27, we
are asking our members to once again wear blue each
Tuesday to support our Negotiations. Wearing blue is a
simple and effective way of letting the District know that
we are united in our quest for a fair and equitable contract.
Contact your site rep or email me
at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a T-shirt.
Our contract establishes a Catastrophic Leave Bank for
members with a serious illness or other emergency who
have used all of their sick leave. Each year, the District
donates 25 days to the bank. Our members donate as
well. We began the year with 99 days in the bank. We
have had several members in need of Catastrophic leave
this year. We are still in need of days. If it is at all
possible, please consider donating one or two days to our
catastrophic leave bank. You can find the form on our
website. Give your completed donation form to your site
rep or send it to the District Office.
I want to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. I hope you
have time to relax and refuel. The work we did as a union in 2017 was remarkable in many ways. I
feel so fortunate to be able to call you my colleagues. I look forward to working with you in 2018.
AFT Membership Letter
Are you aware of the benefits your membership to AFT provides? You can find a list of these
advantages at aft.org/benefits. You do need your membership number to take advantage of the
We have members that no longer have their membership card and they do not know their
membership number. This year, I requested a new membership card for all our members. AFT
informed me they no longer send out new membership cards in mass, instead they generated a
letter for every member. You will find your membership number and instructions for requesting a new
card in this letter. These letters were generated from our database. If there is anything that needs to
be changed on your letter please notify me. I will make sure we update our information and request
a new letter for you.
Our contract was ratified by the board on November 14 and is now is effect. The retroactive payment
for 2017-18 was included with your November paycheck and the 2016-17 retro payment was paid in
the December supplemental paycheck on December 8. The new salary schedule is online on the
Petaluma City School Website under the Human Resources Tab.The District is in the process of
preparing the final contract for review and signatures. Once the contract is prepared, we will be
providing a hard copy for each site rep. The contract will be available online as well. The District
expects to have the contract ready for publication by the end of January.
It's Scholarship Time!
The Petaluma Federation of teachers will sponsor multiple scholarships that will provide a one-time
payment of $500.00 to children of “PFT members in good standing” who are graduating from high
school to attend a community college, a four year college, or other institution with a course of learning
resulting in a diploma or certificate of completion. The scholarships are for those graduating from high
school in the 2017-18 school year. The Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF) will administer the
scholarships. The graduating student must submit the application no later than February 28, 2018.
This is intended to be an annual scholarship however, since the number of applicants will vary from
year to year the scholarship will be reviewed each fiscal year in the total context of the PFT budget.
Applications are available on line at the PFT Website. Please email the PFT President
at email@example.com about your intent to apply. PEF will notify students of the scholarship
award and all of the details encompassing.
All completed applications should be submitted to PFT President,Sandra Larsen, no later than
February 28, 2018. Submissions may be done via email, postal mail, or brought directly to the PFT
office. Late submissions will not be accepted.
California Federation of Teachers Convention 2018
The CFT Convention will be held March 23- 25 at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa. We will
begin the process of electing our delegates in January. If you are interested in attending the
convention be on the look out for nomination forms. There will be more information in the next
How can it already be November? Once again it seems the school year is flying by. It is
report card and parent conference time at elementary sites and the first semester is drawing
to an end for secondary students. Thanks for all you do for students and families. I hope
you enjoy your hard earned break and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
The Federation has ratified the tentative agreement that was reached in September. The
agreement was approved by 97% of our members. We had 377 members vote, 366 voting
yes and 11 voting no. The agreement now goes to the School Board for ratification on
November 14. Once the Board ratifies the agreement, the contract will be in effect. You will
receive the 1.5 % retro for the 2017/18 school year in your November 30 paycheck. The
November pay warrant will reflect the increased salary. In addition, the retro will be for the
three (August, September, and October) previous pay warrants we have received this year.
The 2% which is based on where you were on the salary schedule last year (2016/17) plus
the $ 500 bonus will be included in a supplemental check on December 8. Remember retro
checks are taxed at a higher rate (IRS rules, not our District) and STRS will be
deducted as well.
2017 AFT Collective Bargaining Conference
A Look Inside AFT Bargaining Playbook
We had the opportunity to attend a two day AFT Collective Bargaining Training in Chicago
on October 27 and 28. AFT partnered with the Scheinman Institute at Cornell University’s
Industrial Labor Relations (ILR) School to offer training for locals in a time when collective
bargaining is under attack. This was the first step in earning a Collective Bargaining
Certificate from AFT and Cornell’s School of ILR.
This conference was a worthwhile endeavor. We had the opportunity to learn Collective
Bargaining techniques from AFT leaders. We built relationships with other locals and
learned of their negotiation struggles and successes. We were able to have conversations
with AFT president, Randi Weingarten and Secretary Treasurer, Lorretta Johnson. We
listened to motivating presentations and participated in educational breakout groups. The
training gave us both a fresh outlook and left us confident and rejuvenated. We are inspired
as we move forward to organize our next contract campaign.
Suzanne and Sandra
THE FEDERATION NEEDS YOU!
Would you like to become more involved in your Union? We need a member to serve on the
District Budget Committee. This Advisory Committee meets once a month to discuss the
District's financial outlook. If budget cuts are necessary, this committee will advise the
Board before they take action.
In addition, we will be establishing a committee to work with the District to discuss and
develop recommendations regarding professional responsibilities. We will need members
from TK-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12, Alternate Education, Special Services and SOCC.
If you are interested in serving on either of these committees, email me
I wrote and copied the October Message before the fire. It was clear when I returned to the
office that the original message needed to be changed. For more than a week, we waited
and watched as the fire raged on. School was cancelled due to our unhealthy air and
members were evacuated from their homes. Four of our members lost their homes. Even in
this natural disaster, PFT Members volunteered at evacuation centers as well as
participated in fund raising activities. Thank you to all who help the community during this
time. I am proud to have you as a colleague.
Please accept my sympathies if you or a family member suffered a loss during the fire.
Know we are all here to support you and help whenever possible. If you were evacuated
from your home and used a personal necessity day due to the evacuation, call or email me .
I am working with the District to find ways to help our affected members. This is a time we
should be able to find common ground with the District.
The California Federation of Teachers contacted me immediately after the fire with an offer
of support for our members. In addition, the American Federation of Teachers will be
offering their support as well. i was impressed at their immediate concern and action. I am
so proud to be a member of an organization that is as carrying as CFT and AFT.
Below are sections from the original President's Message
After almost two years of work, our Negotiations Team reached an agreement with the
District. The highlights of the agreement are:
2 % salary increase retroactive to July 1 , 2016
1.5 % salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2017
$500 one time bonus
186 day work year with no change in pay
Willie Brown ( reduced work load ) will be offered for 18-19
Agreement to discuss a possible retirement incentive for those retiring next year, meaning
this will be your last year worked
Members will have the equivalent of two workdays to prepare for the year/semester
The Federation will have all labor rights allowed by law
Committees will be established to look at Health Benefits, Professional Responsibilities, and
This Tentative Agreement must be ratified by our membership. The election is happening as
you read this. Tuesday , October 24 is the last day to vote. Please see your site rep and
vote. Election results will be communicated via email.
Finally, a huge thank you to our Negotiations Team. It was an honor to work with them. Our
members and the students they serve were always their guiding principle. Suzanne Garcia
did an amazing job as our Chief Negotiator. Todd Siders, Matt Beaton, Elyse Vosberg, Matt
Caamano, Erinn VanderMeer, and Andrew Aja served on the team.
A union is defined as an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their
rights and interests. In our case, beginning at the national level educator unions were
formed to protect not only educators but more importantly students. On a national level, we
are affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. They work to influence federal laws,
policies and regulations. At the state level we are affiliated with the California Federation
Teachers. They not only offer a great deal of support to our local, they work at the state
level to elect pro education candidates, get laws passed and overall improve the education
of California's students.
We do the same work in Petaluma but on a local level. We have a strong and dedicated
negotiations team that worked for almost two years to get our members the best possible
contract. We have officers and site reps that will come to the aid of their coworkers. We
have a grievance team that will hold the District accountable every time they choose to
violate our contract. We have an active political group (COPE) that will be working on state
and local elections. But most importantly, we have incredible members. We have 439
members this year. We have over a 99% participation rate !
We are strong! We came together last year in an amazing way. We attended school board
meetings, general membership meetings and socials. We leafleted parents and the
community. We had over a 90% participation in a Work to Rule Week and a one day Unfair
Labor Practice Strike. We are making a positive change for the educators and students of
Petaluma City Schools. We can and will affect change. We all need to continue to be active.
Most of all, we must stand with our fellow educators to demand the best from the State,
District, and Federal Government.
Welcome back. I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing summer. If you are like me, it seems like a distant memory. It is amazing how quickly we get back into school routines.
Hopefully your year is off to a great start. For those of you who are new to our district, welcome. We are honored to have you as a member of the Petaluma Federation of Teachers. This is my second year serving as PFT President. Again this year, I will be teaching second grade at Valley Vista on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday and Thursday will be my union days. On those days I will be in the office or attending meetings.
We continue to work this year without a contract. Despite much effort by our Negotiation Team this summer, we were not able to reach an agreement with the District. Our existing contract will remain in effect until we are able to ratify a new one. There are two important exceptions that have an impact on our members. The first is that we are able to organize and carryout concerted activities. Our Work to Rule Week last year is an example of a work action or concerted activity.
The second exception is one that favors the District. The District is not required to participate in binding arbitration when we do not resolve a grievance. The District has chosen to use this exception with each of the grievances we filed last spring. Two grievances were related to evaluations not being completed in the manner agreed upon in our contract. Another grievance was filed regarding staffing at Mary Collins at Cherry Valley. The fourth grievance was filed by the Federation when our members did not receive the parity increase the District's own study found to be due. For the first time, the District decided the parity increase was for only the three salary scale placements listed in our contract. The Federation strongly disagreed with the District's questionable contract interpretation and immediately filed a grievance. The District refused to change their position and the School Board sided with them. The District via their lawyer, Margaret Merchat, has informed the Federation the District will not be participating in binding arbitration. It leaves one to question the District's desire to work with the Federation to solve these issues and other problems as they arise.
I would love to come to your site and speak with you in person. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need support.
Your Negotiations Team worked through the summer in an effort to secure the best possible contract. Negotiations entered a new phase this summer, pre-mediation. Pre-mediation is much like mediation with one important difference. As in mediation, we had the help of a mediator and we were not in the same room as the District's team. Unlike mediation, the District cannot declare impasse and impose their best and final offer. We have not reached an agreement with the District, and at this time , we are bound by a confidentiality agreement. As always, we are hopeful.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CONTRACT!
You can find our contract and appendices online at pft1881.org. Look under the tab titled Contracts. You can also find it on the PCS website. To find it there go to Departments, Human Resources, and Employee Contracts. Regardless of the site you use, remember to check both appendices too,
Article VIII Leaves
Article VIII is the section of our contract that pertains to leaves . Section C is about Personal Necessity Leave. Please take the time to read this section for yourself. You are allowed to use up to 6 days of personal necessity leave a year without giving a reason. However, you may not use more than 4 consecutive days without stating a reason. Section C.4 states that except in emergency situations, employees wishing to take a personal necessity day will notify the building principal or immediate supervisor no later than noon on the previous school day. Some sites require a form be completed while others do not. If you are asked to complete a form, do so. Remember to leave the reason line blank. You do not have to give the District a reason for your first 6 personal necessity days. Please remember that Personal Necessity is for personal or professional need.
THE FEDERATION NEEDS YOU!
We currently have the following Executive Council Openings:
Please consider joining our leadership team. Contact me at 707-696-5118 or email@example.com if you are interested in serving.
July President’s Message
Happy Summer. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful summer break. I know I needed some time to recharge. My husband and I had an incredible vacation and we came home in time for the birth of our granddaughter.
The Federation has been working through the summer. A special thanks to Dana Morellini and Erinn VanderMeer for working on grievances while I was on vacation. The Federation has filed a grievance asking the District to honor parity, which is in our contract, since it was not included in our final check of the school year. The District's own study found they owed us a 1.82% parity adjustment retroactive to August 2016. The District is maintaining in its response to our grievance that this increase needs to be negotiated. That is a direct contradiction to the message Gary sent to the community. There are also active grievances regarding incomplete evaluations at three sites. In addition, we have been working with our attorney on unfair labor practice charges.
We ended the year with a great show of solidarity. Our one day strike was a huge success. I was so proud of the strength and unity we displayed. Our actions were inspirational to our fellow educators in many other districts. Your June 30 pay warrant had a strike deduction listed if you participated in our Unfair Labor Practice Strike. Take your yearly salary and divide it by 187 (days worked) to see how much should have been deducted. There should not have been any days of leave deducted from your balance for the strike.
The District and the Federation have agreed to mediation without declaring impasse. The District withdrew their request for impasse to be declared before PERB could rule. That was important because if impasse is declared, the District could impose their last and “best” offer without reaching an agreement. Our first negotiation session with a mediator present is July 26. We will send an update after that session.
For now, the new school year is rapidly approaching, and we do not have a contract. Mary Collins at Cherry Valley and Penngrove will start the year on July 19. Executive Council voted at our June meeting to begin the new year as usual. That will give us all time to get our classes settled. It was decided that Labor Day would be the appropriate time to begin work actions if we still do not have an agreement by that date.
I hope your enjoy the rest of your summer break.
Happy Summer! I don't know about you, but summer break came just in time for me. This has been an incredible year. We united in our efforts to demand the best possible education for our students and a fair contract for our members. I do not have the final numbers, but the participation rate of our ULP strike was very high. Surrounding districts have taken note of our actions and we made a difference for educators throughout the area. Another added benefit of our working together has been the chance to spend more time with each other. Petaluma City Schools is blessed with a team of exceptional educators. It has been a privilege to work with all of you.
I realize there are many questions about our next steps. We do not have a contract yet, but there is some good news to report. The District has withdrawn their request for impasse. Instead , we have agreed to pre mediation. That means we will have a mediator present at our negotiation sessions to help us reach an agreement. We will not be at impasse, so the District cannot implement the last offer. We are hopeful that with a mediator's assistance, we can reach an agreement. We expect to be back at the negotiating table sometime in late July or early August. As always, there will be an update after every session.
There have also been some questions regarding the District's last salary offer. The District is required by our contract (Article 5, Section C ) to complete a parity study on May 10 of each year. If that parity study shows that we are not at or above the 50th percentile of the comparison group, our salary is to be adjusted by the amount needed to get us to the 50th percentile. The study was completed this year and the District found that we needed a 1.82% adjustment to reach the 50 percentile. By contract, the adjustment is retroactive to July 1, 2016. The District's last offer of a 2% salary increase included the 1.82% parity adjustment. That meant the District was only offering a 0.18% salary increase. PFT maintains that parity is in our contract and does not need to be negotiated. We consider the 2% to be in addition to the parity adjustment.
We also stand by our decision to reject the offer as it included a class size increase aimed at our TK-3 students and their teachers. We believe this to be detrimental to the learning environment of our youngest students.
Please take some time this summer to relax and rejuvenate. Know that we will continue the work we started last year. We will continue to fight for the students of Petaluma City Schools. Together we can and will make a difference.