Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Parents, educators, neighbors unite behind two ESP unions bargaining a new, delayed contract.

Parents, educators, neighbors unite behind two ESP unions bargaining a new, delayed contract.:

Solidarity, Activism Wins the Day

Selah support employees march from the district office through downtown Selah after the district moved a 7 p.m. meeting to 7 a.m. to avoid the employee rally.
Photo by Dale Folkerts (c) WEA 2017


It was three days before Thursday’s regular 7:00 p.m. board meeting in the Selah School District (SSD) of Washington state. People in this close-knit community near Yakima can set their watches by this long-standing meeting.
On that Monday morning, April 24, members of the Selah Education Support Personnel (SESP) and Selah Educational Office Personnel (SEOP) posted fliers on union bulletin boards at five schools and the administration office announcing their Rally for Respect starting at 5:30 p.m. on the day of the meeting.
“They Can Run But They Can’t Hide,” the fliers stated.
Tensions were high that week as both unions and SSD had been bargaining a joint contract for 18 months. Notices of the rally strained relations further since it called for protesters to assemble just outside the board room building.
“We wanted board members to see all the support we had as they entered the parking lot,” says Cindy Huntamer, SEOP president. “We made signs and buttons … ordered pizza and sodas. We were excited.”
The board room, however, was empty at 7:00 p.m. that Thursday.
School administrators decided to move the meeting up by 12 hours to 7:00 a.m.
Stay the Course
“District officials claimed the decision was made the week before, but they didn’t announce it until the day before,” says Huntamer, a federal programs secretary at the district’s early learning center. District officials had apparently ignored a Washington state law requiring state agencies to provide 20 days notice to change a regularly scheduled meeting of this type.
“We found out by email,” Huntamer adds. “We were not pleased over the sudden change or that the meeting was now at a time when most people are at work.”
Unfazed, some members attended the early part of the meeting before checking in Parents, educators, neighbors unite behind two ESP unions bargaining a new, delayed contract.:

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