Update: I left out a few things (which is what I get for updating the blog late at night!). I’ve added information below.
Tonight’s meeting was long, mostly due to lots of public comment on two items: the annual “non-re-elect” resolution and our labor negotiations with SEIU 1021, the union that represents our clerical workers, custodians, student nutrition workers, and other classified staff. (Hint: Lots of public comment usually equals unhappy people, and tonight was no exception).
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City Hall watchers know that the Board of Supervisors has been trying to reverse the layoffs of scores of workers in the City’s Department of Public Health; layoffs that directly affect school district workers because of “bumping” policies that allow workers in certain Civil Service job classifications to bump into jobs either in the school district or in the City.
Unfortunately, the legislation that would have restored the Public Health jobs failed to get the required eight votes yesterday (voting against were Supervisors Alioto-Pier, Chu, Elsbernd, and Maxwell). The Chronicle reports, however, that the legislation could go back to committee for changes, allowing the authors to try again for an eight-vote majority at some later date. Time’s a wasting, however — the first layoffs go into effect as early as next week.
As I said, I’m sorry the jobs were not saved, because that would have given our workers some peace of mind. But I also think this would have been at best a temporary solution — there’s no guarantee our secretaries and other workers wouldn’t get bumped out of their jobs again later. The real solution — the one no one at the City seems to want to talk about — is that we need to get real about Civil Service job classifications for school district jobs. In no reality-based universe is the job description for a school secretary the same as a clerk in the Department of Public Health — however wonderful and hard-working. Being a school secretary requires specialized knowledge of how the school district works, including budgeting and staffing mechanisms; and in many case bilingual skills so that this essential “face” of our school office can easily communicate with parents. You don’t even have to take my word for it: ask the principals, teachers, students and parents who have been coming to City Hall in droves and writing impassioned letters to their elected officials in order to make the same point.