At a union meeting on Thurs. May 10, teachers of The United Educators of San Francisco voted to hold another meeting; at this future meeting, discussions and votes would be held on whether or not to authorize a strike.
Over 1,880 educators attended the meeting and 97 percent of those who attended supported a future meeting, according to UESF communications director Matthew Hardy. However, the possibility of having a strike this spring is unlikely, according to Hardy.
The recent meeting was held to discuss the district's contract proposal and budget recommendations. The possibility of a strike was raised by the union in response to the district’s new budget proposal. Teachers had the opportunity to vote on whether they would want to have the union call another meeting during which a strike vote would be held. If the future meeting is held, then a minimum of 15 percent - approximately 900 out of 5,800 members - teachers would need to be in attendance to cast votes on whether or not they should authorize a strike.
The decision is then up to union officers as to whether or not educators should strike. "According to the union rules, we have two strike votes to go on strike,” Hardy said. “Before we walk the picket line, we have to hold a second vote. We hope it doesn't have to come to that, but San Francisco teachers are ready to stand up for our jobs and for our classrooms."
Authorization of a strike would mean that the union has the support of their constituents to use the threat of a strike in the contract bargaining process, according to union representative and science teacher Richard Shapiro. The decision is then up to union officers as to whether or not educators should strike. "The union constitution’s rules for actually calling a strike are difficult,” physics teacher Richard Shapiro said. “It’s a multi-stage process.”
The threat of a strike is a tactic that has been used before. The last official union strike was in 1979 and it lasted six weeks. Since then, there have been numerous strike votes, the last one occurring six years ago, but there have been no official strikes, according to Shapiro.
In addition to cutting AP prep periods, the district is negotiating to eliminate Department Head positions, according to the UESF eNews sent to members on May 11. The new budget proposal also proposes to continue and possibly increase the furlough day program, and have proposed to cut eight days from the school calendar over the next two years, continuing the four furlough days done for the past two years, but allowing an increase to up to nine furlough days annually if there are more budget cut-backs. The district’s proposal also includes cutting special education programs and increasing kindergarten class sizes by one student per year, starting with the 2013-14 school year, up to a total of 25 students.