FROM THE CAPITOL
CSEA advocates for classified employees’ safety and economic security
By Brad Washburn, email@example.com
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, CSEA has been in regular communication with the Governor’s office, the State Superintendent’s office and legislative leaders. Our goal is to make sure classified employees are protected, and schools and colleges get the resources they need to keep our campuses and communities safe. We continue to advocate for policies that safeguard the health, well-being and economic security of our members. On April 17, Governor Gavin Newsom joined the CSEA Board of Directors during the videoconference board meeting and expressed his support for classified school employees and the work they are doing during the COVID-19 crisis. “I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all of you for the incredible work you are doing every single day,” Newsom said. “Delivering meals, all the incredible custodial work, bus drivers that are delivering those meals themselves and so many other support staff functions that so often get overlooked and underappreciated.”
Personal Protective Equipment
CSEA worked with the Governor’s office and members of the California Legislature back in March to secure $100 million for K-12 districts and childcare centers to cover school cleaning expenses and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), ensuring that our custodial workers can safely disinfect school facilities. However, getting access to adequate PPE has been a challenge as shortages of critical gear has impacted workers in all fields, including hospital staff. CSEA has been a powerful voice in demanding that masks and other PPE be made available, as soon as possible, to all classified employees who are performing critical work in our schools and potentially exposing themselves to the virus. If California is committed to flattening the curve of infection, classified employees need to be protected.
Gov. Newsom told our Board that he wants to make sure school staff have the gear they need to stay safe and healthy.
Gov. Newsom told our Board that he wants to make sure school staff have the gear they need to stay safe and healthy. He also said that while California has already distributed 42 million N-95 masks, that’s still “totally inadequate.” He said the state will be investing another $1.4 billion in PPE over the next few months.
“As soon as I get those in, it will provide us with the capacity to provide not only for our frontline employees at the hospitals, community clinics and skilled nursing facilities, but then extend to you and your members the ability to access important, special facemasks, glove sets, N-95s, not just surgical masks,” he said.
Comprehensive framework for school districts
CSEA has also been working to protect members’ income. In March, CSEA worked with the Governor in support of an executive order that ensured California public school districts retain state funding in order to pay their employees during closures. Because this order requires local implementation, CSEA has led negotiations with labor and management groups on a comprehensive labor-management framework that provides clear guidance to every California school district in crafting new Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for the remainder of the school year. The framework was agreed upon and endorsed by all education labor organizations as well as statewide management associations and the California Department of Education.
“The labor and management groups understand the importance of all of us working together during this unprecedented time."
— Tony Thurmond
“The labor and management groups understand the importance of all of us working together during this unprecedented time. The framework for this collaboration created jointly, models how we can all come together to better serve our students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The comprehensive framework provided the following guidelines for school districts:
- Public schools receive school funding (ADA) during the pandemic,
- Districts pay all classified school employees during school and college closures related to the pandemic,
- Classified employees who are asked to report in-person during the closure, but who are unable to because of illness, higher risk for illness, individual/household quarantine, or unmet childcare needs are not required to use accrued leave, and
- Classified employees who report for work and have contact with the public be provided with necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.
Photo by Joseph Gallagher
Next year’s budget outlook
The budget proposal Governor Newsom originally drafted in January was based on projections of economic growth and proposed making additional investments in public education, as well as in several major educational initiatives benefiting classified employees. The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly change that outlook.
As the budget process moves forward, several downward revisions are expected. California does have strong reserves that were put in place before the pandemic began. However, those funds will probably not be enough to offset the economic toll that the pandemic has taken and continues to take on the state. Stay tuned for updates on the budget and what impact it will have on next year’s school funding.
“We don’t do enough for our teachers, but you know what—if we don’t do enough for our teachers, my gosh, we don’t even come close to scratching the surface of your members and celebrating their contributions." — Gov. Gavin Newsom
CSEA will continue to be actively involved in advocating for public schools and classified employees at the State Capitol. Many state legislators as well as the Governor are listening to us, and they understand the importance of classified employees in our schools and community colleges.
“You guys have made it crystal clear to me,” Newsom told the CSEA Board of Directors. “We don’t do enough for our teachers, but you know what—if we don’t do enough for our teachers, my gosh, we don’t even come close to scratching the surface of your members and celebrating their contributions. If you can just extend my personal gratitude to each and every one of them. Let them know that they matter, and we care. We want to be as supportive as we can going forward.”