I’d like to take some time out to speak with you all about some of the things that have happened the last few days regarding the District’s and local government’s response to the Coronavirus (CV) Pandemic as it relates to our schools. Last Friday, the District made the decision to close schools from March 16, 2020 through March 27, 2020 for onsite instruction in an effort to curve the community spread of CV amongst our learning community. The District also gave directive to certain unit members to remain at home in a paid status and explained that those unit members who provide “essential services” would be asked to report to work on an as needed basis by their immediate supervisors.
Friday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom announced schools would maintain their funding through this closure. CSEA has been lobbying in Sacramento in preparation of this moment to ensure that the Governor made this decision and we very glad he did. For the time being, we are being paid regardless of whether or not students are in classrooms and regardless of whether or not we are physically at work.
Yesterday the District began distributing learning materials to students. Many of our unit members were called back into work to facilitate the distribution of these learning materials. This work is extremely critical and I thank you all for doing it. As a requirement of maintaining state funding levels, the District must provide a “distant learning” program for our students. All students are being provided learning materials and this is what allows the District to claim attendance and maintain funding. CSEA unit members have been and will continue to be integral component of the District’s distant learning program. Our members will continue to be called upon to distribute learning materials, clean and maintain school sites, provide students meals, and secure District property and District operations. I ask you all to be mindful of this and to remember that so long as we are in a paid status, we need to be available to render service to the District if requested.
I know there are many questions out there regarding safety, physically reporting to work, and the economic impacts of CV and these school closures. Know that CSEA is currently negotiating the effects of school closures with District and we hope to have an agreement with more concrete information regarding everything that is going on in the coming days which will be shared with you all. In hopes to try to provide you some general information for the time being, the following answers are being provided to some general questions CSEA is receiving:
1. What do I if feel I unsafe coming to work due to CV community spread?
If you feel unsafe to attend work (if you are being directed to do so), you should contact Human Resources to inform them. Human Resources has assured us that no one will be disciplined if they are directed to come to work but don’t feel safe doing so. You just need to speak with Human Resources and understand leave accruals may be required to be utilized.
2. What do I do if I’m 65 years or older or have an immune deficiency and have been given an executive order by Governor Newsom to shelter-in-place?
Members that are 65 years or older or have an immune deficiency should not report to work. You should contact your immediate supervisor or Human Resources and let them know you are unable to report as a result of Governor Newsom’s executive order. If you are being directed to report to work and fall in one of these categories, leaves accruals are not currently being docked. The District is merely allowing these unit members to remain at home in a paid status.
3. I am being directed to work but have childcare needs as a result of school closures, what should I do?
Everyone right now needs to do what is best from themselves and their families. One will not lose their job over not being able to report to work over childcare issues. Please just communicate appropriately with your immediate supervisor and Human Resources. If you are being directed to report to work but cannot, you may be asked to use your leave accruals. It’s important to note that that Labor Code Section 230.8 protects your time off work during school closures, including emergencies and natural disasters, to tend to your children. You may not be disciplined for taking time off work to attend to your kids right now.
4. What is CSEA doing to ensure the safety of those members that are still being directed to report to work and may have to continue to work throughout school closures?
Any and all concerns that have been presented to me, the Placentia-Yorba Linda Chapter 293 Executive Board, our Labor Rep, or CSEA in its entirety have been taken to Human Resources and there has been action. CSEA has consistently told Human Resources to advise management at all levels to be vigilant and ensure appropriate health protocol is being followed to ensure staff safety and prevent community spread of CV. If you have a safety concern, please report it to me or any of your Executive Board members.
5. I am a Bus Driver that is being told to remain home, am I going to be paid my daily average or my guaranteed minimum?
This a difficult question to answer at this time and one that is specific to Bus Drivers given the nature of their job and contract language that solely applies to them. While we haven’t received a definite answer on this matter from management at this moment, CSEA has forcefully taken the stance that Bus Drivers should be paid their daily average. This is an issue that will be addressing in the coming days. We will keep you up to date on this.
6. Governor Newsom announced yesterday that he didn’t believe students would return for school prior to the end of the academic year, will we keep our jobs if this is the case?
There have been absolutely no talks at this time of furloughs or layoffs. CSEA continues to lobby Sacramento to ensure that furloughs or layoffs aren’t even an option. Today, Superintendents from across the state had a teleconference with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to discuss all that Districts are dealing with regarding their response to CV. CSEA has been told that the State Superintendent ensured District leaders that they will be funded through this all and that systems are in place to eliminate any negative economic impacts associated with CV from affecting public schools. The State Superintendent is extremely pro labor and a good friend of CSEA. Tomorrow, he’ll be on a teleconference with the leaders of public education labor unions including CSEA. After this teleconference, we’ll have more concrete information for you. But currently, all signs point to the District being funded at current levels regardless of the length of time schools are closed which means job security for us through this all.
Members of CSEA Placentia-Yorba Linda Chapter 293, we are in uncharted waters. Stress and tension out there are high. I know that many of your families have been negatively economically impacted by the Nation’s response to prevent the spread of CV. As your Chapter President, it is my goal to ensure that members of our union make it out of this trying time economically whole. I ask that you all be flexible and patient and to continue to provide the services being requested of you. I’m confident if we continue do the hard work that we are known to do as classified employees, we will have nothing to worry about. We’ll look back on this period of time and see how the work force of this country and our economy were devasted but how we kept our livelihood because we have a good employer and good union jobs. We are essential public service workers and all the work you all are doing out there is extremely meaningful. I am more proud than ever to serve you all as Chapter President. CSEA will have more information coming to you in the next few days regarding the District’s response to CV. Stay healthy and safe!
CSEA Placentia-Yorba Linda Chapter 293 President