I have had the honor of being your representative for going on ten years and I am very heart-sick and concerned about the reports we are receiving after last nights emergency General Membership meeting (April 6, 2011). Unbelievably only 176 of our 600 members showed up and therefore it is no surprise that there is a great deal of misinformation being circulated throughout the system. So I ask you to please let me try to explain the facts as best I can. On March 28, 2011 Keith Love (your Business Agent) and I received an urgent request from Enid Weissman, Executive Superintendent of Human Resources to meet with her. Keith and I attended this meeting with her and the entire Superintendents’ Cabinet later that afternoon where we were told there would be a Board Agenda, Item (D-25) on the next School Board meeting April 13, 2011 to reorganize and balance the Capital Budget. In this item were the RIF (Lay-Off) of approximately 300 DCSMEC positions from the Maintenance Department, 129 in OIT and several more in the Capital Task Force. The initial impact to DSCMEC was over 500. Although this was shocking news to Keith and me there was a glimmer of hope offered. We were told that if in the next two days if DCSMEC could come up with ideas or suggestions to help save 5 million dollars of funds from our unit that the Superintendent would reallocate 10 million dollars to keep from laying off the maintenance workers. He has said many times publicly that he needs to keep the boots on the ground and the employees with tool belts working and he was standing by his word by giving us this chance.
DCSMEC called an Emergency Executive/Negotiating Board meeting the following night. Every scenario was explored, we consulted our Attorneys’ who strongly cautioned against opening the contract (which was not actually offered by the District) and in the end the decision was unanimous to use existing contract language which would allow the employees who were already scheduled for layoff to “Transfer to a Lower Pay Rate in Lieu of Layoff”. Fortunately we already had a lower pay rate in the contract and we could therefore produce the 5 million dollars and save the jobs of virtually all of the Maintenance and Capital Task Force employees. This allowed us to meet the two day deadline without opening the contact which in the current environment could have exposed us to far greater threats. Additionally we were able to get a written agreement with Management that this is a temporary salary reduction only effective through the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and that any of the affected employees would not be subjected to any other School Board financial cuts, plus if an employee at 100% leaves the system that opening will be back filled by one of the employees on 80%.
I believe that our Officers have tried to mitigate the circumstances (that were not caused by us) in the best way possible and make the best of a horrible situation. This was not an easy decision for me or any of your elected Officers but we feel our job is to protect your job and this Union.
I know that many of those who are affected by this temporary pay reduction are upset but I ask you to not forget that without the intervention of DCSMEC YOU would have lost your job!
Yours in solidarity: Joe Cortese
This newsletter has been reviewed and distributed with the consent of Keith Love.