The SEA’s Collective Bargaining Senate met Monday night, with the Executive Branch Master Bargaining Team seeking feedback and direction on some of the core concepts being discussed in bargaining. The bargaining team was able to bring consensus of the Senate back to the state, when negotiations continued on Tuesday.
Ultimately, while the Bargaining Team has the authority to reach a tentative agreement, the Collective Bargaining Senate has the authority to approve and send out an agreement for ratification of the full membership. There are some challenging issues being discussed in bargaining that will be of great interest to all employees, and informing them of key concepts was the purpose of the meeting Monday. Doing so ultimately allows the bargaining team to better align the negotiation process with the ratification process.
The Bargaining Team was pleased with the turnout and participation at the meeting, especially considering the proximity to the holidays.
“The team was happy with the passionate but respectful dialogue about some very contentious ideas,” said Jim Nall, the chair of the Master Bargaining Team.
“Ultimately, we want the members of the Senate to be informed and engaged,” Nall said, “so they’re ready to go back to their worksites and keep all members up to date on the way negotiations are going. It’s better to get the pulse of the organization during the process than to do a check in after a tentative agreement is reached. This way, Senate members can provide two-way communication between members at large and the bargaining team. If necessary, they can also help organize their colleagues if any unified worksite action is required down the road.”
The voting members of the Collective Bargaining Senate include Executive Branch councilors, stewards and chapter presidents, the Collective Bargaining Advisory Committee, the Board of Directors, the Master Bargaining Team and chairs of sub-unit bargaining teams. Any SEA member in good standing can attend Collective Bargaining Senate meetings and is encouraged to do so. You must be a member of the Senate in order to vote, however.
SEA member Lauren Jackson, who works for the Department of Education, is not a member of the Collective Bargaining Senate but took the time to be there Monday night.
“I think that people, who do not attend don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and just know about the end result, are doing themselves a disservice,” she said. “I am not able to vote because I am not a councilor or in a chapter leadership role. But, I would like to be able to vote, so after our baby arrives and things are a bit more settled, I intend to run for councilor. I’d encourage others to do the same.”
Jackson is expecting her first child in February. After hearing of health benefit changes that are currently being discussed at the bargaining table, she worried that if the changes went into effect she would not be able to afford to have another child.
“It scared me because I’m going to have a $500 deductible when she arrives, which I think is totally reasonable,” she said. “The cost would skyrocket if these proposed changes take place. There’s no way we could afford that.”
She praised the work of the bargaining team, which came into sharper focus for her Monday night.
“I was impressed by how hard the team is working for us,” Jackson said. “And, I know the union has our best interests at heart and want to take care of us.”