Capo Teachers and Anaheim Workers Protest Cuts to Dramatically Different Responses

There were two public meetings Tuesday night where public employees showed up to express their interest in resolving the budget shortfalls affecting both employers. One at the Capistrano Unified School District Board meeting, and one at the Anaheim City Council meeting. The employees were met with dramatically different responses from their governing officials.

From the Orange County Register, Scott Martindale reports:

Capo Teacher Protest

Capistrano Unified teachers wave rally signs in front of district headquarters Dec. 15 to protest the school board's proposal to cut teacher salary by 10-percent to make up for a budget shortfall projected to hit the district in the 2010-11 school year.- JOSHUA SUDOCK, THE OC REGISTER

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Shouting “We are united!” as passing cars honked their horns in support, about 1,000 Capistrano Unified teachers and their supporters rallied outside the district’s headquarters tonight to protest the school board’s insistence on 10 percent pay cuts to balance the district’s budget.

About 700 teachers and other employees arrived in 12 yellow school buses, packing tightly into the northern end of Capistrano’s sprawling district office parking lot, wedged between rows of cars and cement planters. Union leaders pegged the crowd estimate as high as 1,500.

Tonight’s rally was the culmination of weeks of smaller rallies staged across Capistrano Unified to raise awareness of the district’s hard-line negotiating tactics. The district’s “reform”-minded school board has advocated across-the-board, 10 percent pay cuts for more than a year now to close the district’s gaping deficit.

Capistrano Unified faces an estimated $25.1 million shortfall in the 2010-11 school year, with tens of millions of dollars of additional cuts projected for future years.

The rest of Scott’s report can be found here.

What I find interesting is that the Capo School Board restricted access to their meeting to available seats and the Board actually left the room when the crowd cheered on one of the speakers. According to Martindale:

Most of the demonstrators were not let into the board room, although they continued to protest loudly outside. Audience members who were admitted to the board room were encouraged to get hand stamps if they exited to guarantee re-entry.

Uniformed sheriff’s deputies were on hand to help monitor the crowds, and no one was allowed to stand in the board room; everyone was required to have a seat.

When teachers union President Vicki Soderberg spoke around 7:45 p.m., the crowd both in and out of the board room erupted in loud and sustained cheers and applause.

At that point, four of the trustees stood up and left the dais, retreating to a back room for about 10 minutes.

“Trustees were to exit if there was undue response to each speaker,” Interim Superintendent Bobbi Mahler told the audience. “Now you are thus informed and we can move along.”

That was a far cry from the respectful response that the Anaheim City Council gave more than 150 City workers when they showed up at Tuesday evening’s Council meeting to address potential layoffs of front-line city workers. After about half a dozen speakers including the President of the Anaheim Municipal Employee’s Association and the General Manager of Orange County Employee’s Association (AMEA is an Affiliate of OCEA) addressed the Council regarding budget solutions, all five members of the Council responded positively and pledged to work together with the city employees to come up with solutions. Unlike the Capo Board meeting, in Anaheim the standing room only crowd was allowed access to the Council Chambers.

OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino informed the Council of a recent poll of Anaheim voters which showed that voters; were happy with services provided by city workers, wanted those services to continue to be provided by city employees over outside contractors, and believe that layoffs should be the last action taken only after all other options are exhausted.

Public employees in our cities, school districts, and county agencies are dedicated to serving the needs of the public. They understand the difficult economic times that we are facing. These two meetings demonstrate the dramatic difference in response by our elected official to the current economic situation, and the needs of their constituents and employees. They can behave arrogantly and dispasionately like the Capistrano Unified School District Board, or they can behave thoughtfully and respectfully as the Anaheim City Council did.

It remains to be seen whether the Anaheim City Council actually instructs their staff to negotiate in good faith, but their actions tonight seem to indicate the possibility that they will try. As far as the Capo School District is concerned, their idea of reform appears to be to close off comment, close off discussion, and simply tell their dedicated employees to like it or lump it.

Happy Holidays.

  4 comments for “Capo Teachers and Anaheim Workers Protest Cuts to Dramatically Different Responses

  1. Heather Pritchard
    December 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Chris, my daughter goes to Capo, the superintendent posted the board’s side of the story at the school’s website, the teachers? They don’t have the opportunity to do the same thing. How convenient. It’s appalling as far as I’m concerned. This is not at all shocking to me and it’s not just 10% cut in pay, they are cutting benefits, asking for furlough days, etc. It’s retro-active pay cuts from the middle of the year to be taken out of their paychecks. We’re talking about a huge burden on the teachers.

    • capomom
      January 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

      Heather, you are 100% wrong when you state the decrease is retro- active. It clearly states on the CUSD website that the pay cut would not be retro- active. Get your facts and do a little independent research, CUEA is a very dishonest group and the political strife they are causing only harms the students. As far as the board goes, they are not perfect but a huge improvement from the last.
      Maybe if the district finances would have been managed better over the last 15 years we would be able to survive the financial shortfall with out such drastic cuts.

      Lastly it is my belief the teachers should learn how to behave with the same respect the want from their students at a government meeting.

  2. December 17, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I was proud of our Anaheim City Council for the respectful way they spoke to the employees. Even Lorri Galloway stepped out to address speakers after Public Comments, which she usually does not do. Anaheim is a family, and the idea of cutting staff is abhorrent to Council and Department heads. Nobody on staff is seen as an employee badge number, they are people, with families and bills to pay, and leadership is devastated at filling a $6 million shortfall in the 2010 budget. I think Council will look at all suggestions, and I applaud the employees unions for bringing ideas to the table and trying to work with the City rather than simply standing out front screaming for what they want. It was a high point in behavior for all concerned, and a low point in heartbreak for all of us. I think everyone is very focused on how to keep paying these hard working people in Anaheim. I am sorry to hear that not all organizations work the same way. Good luck to the Capo teachers.

  3. cusdparent
    January 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Capomom — you are right in that, as of right now, they are not planning to retro-active the pay. But, honestly why would we trust anything the board is putting out right now? If you knew your facts, you would know that this current board was elected under false pretenses and from day was has undermined everything the teachers have worked hard to build up in this district. (Excuse me, trying to take credit for the high test scores??? Not ONE school board member has ever stepped foot on one of our campuses, and if they did, THEY might respect us. If you really are a capo mom and enjoy the high quality education your child is receiving from that school and this district and have ever volunteered in the classroom throughout your child’s life, then I wonder if you would be so quick to judge the teachers. Many teachers are single income already living off of simple salaries. We know and are accepting a cut, but do YOUR research. We deserve a FAIR cut. For some teachers, what the board is proposing is 15-21%. Add to the fact they WON’T even sit down and speak with us to come to an agreement. We want to be heard. We want to negotiate. It is the SCHOOL BOARD hindering the process. It is the SCHOOL BOARD creating division. It is the SCHOOL BOARD trying to put teachers against parents. Teachers and informed, educated parents are the only ones who are trying to unite this district under fair and respectful terms. If the School Board has a comment about the teachers reactions at the meetings, my last words: ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP.

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