The Lodi Unified School District narrowly made a deal with CSEA for all Classified Employees for the final week of the 2020-2021 school year. Comments on the Lodi USD Facebook page were suppressed during public outcry.
When the COVID-19 pandemic affected us in early-mid 2020, the Lodi Unified School District was forced to close all schools and transition some employees to distance learning and working. New contracts were negotiated with much of the staff around July, but when the California School Employees Association (CSEA) asked about the Classified Employees they were told by the district, “If your services are needed for the last five days of student instruction, CSEA will be allowed to work on a time card.” This is according to CSEA Negotiation Chair Desiree Weiss, who spoke at the start of the LUSD Board of Education meeting last Tuesday.
Classified Employees at the Lodi Unified School District include bus drivers, food workers, sanitation workers, children supervisors, tech support specialists, and more. Many of these employees have remained on the frontlines since the start of the pandemic, and some had to cover numerous positions due to reduced staff. Their contract was set to expire on June 3, 2021; however, LUSD’s 2020-2021 school year was extended one week to June 10, 2021.
A rally was held outside the Lodi Unified School District where numerous participants blew whistles, held signs, and showed their support for Classified Employees. These whistles can even be heard in the background of the video for the June 1st Board of Education meeting.
Also during the meeting, the Board of Education discussed Resolution 2021-35 for the Hiring of Short-term Classified Employees. This can be seen at the 2:52:10 mark of the YouTube video. Assistant Superintendent Mike McKilligan stated, “This is also a routine item we bring to you each year in June to clear the way in case we need to hire some short term employees during the course of the next school year.”
Although some in the public believed this was an attempt to hire new employees to take the place of the Classified workers whose contracts would soon be expiring, this item is for employment beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June
30, 2022, and lasting no longer than 170 days [Source].
As negotiations stalled between LUSD and CSEA, the Superintendent of the District Cathy Nichols-Washer released a statement on June 2nd claiming that CSEA was asking for too much, and that some District services would be reduced for the final week due to “recent” changes.
There was so much outrage after the June 1st meeting that the comments were turned off when the Superintendent’s message was posted on the Lodi Unified School District Facebook page. Additionally, all posts on the Facebook page now have limited commenting.
While CSEA and Classified Workers admit that what they are asking for is higher than usual, this is partly because of the increased workload and high-risk environment at schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. One employee stated that 66 people on LUSD campuses tested positive for COVID-19 in the 66 days prior to the LUSD meeting on June 1st.
Additionally, many classified employees are working below California’s minimum wage, and the increase in their contract is simply a cost of living adjustment. The current starting salary for these workers is $12.32 an hour. If this wage is not increased, 41% of Classified Workers will be below minimum wage after the increase to $15/hour in 2022.
The latest stimulus package from the federal government, called the American Rescue Plan, supplied $120 million to the Lodi Unified School District to assist students and staff as the schools reopened. It is with this money that the Classified Employees expected to get equitable compensation.
The two parties eventually reached an agreement on June 3, 2021. The following message was posted under the Superintendent Messages for the Lodi Unified School District.
“The Lodi Unified School District and CSEA have reached an agreement that will allow all CSEA employees (whose last contract day for this year would be today) to work the last five days of this school year (June 4th – June 10th) and be paid double their regular rate of pay for those days. There is additional language in the MOU that provides compensation for every CSEA unit member, no matter their work calendar, CSEA will share complete details with unit members in the next few days. The District and CSEA worked to put this MOU together so that we can continue to provide the best learning and working environment for our staff and students. The MOU also reflects our appreciation and commitment to our CSEA employees.”JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE DISTRICT AND CSEA
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