The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

‘Blue Fluâ€TM Job Action in San Francisco Schools

by Brendan Coyne

Aug. 31, 2005 – Workers with San Francisco’s public school system kicked off the new school year with an old-fashioned job action: they called in sick to protest failing contract negotiations and the district’s refusal to provide pay raises for over three years.

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Hundreds of janitors, cafeteria workers, secretaries and others with low-paying but critical positions in the district – approximately a fifth of the support staff – opted not to come in for the first day of school, just weeks before the union is set to hold a strike authorization vote.

Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 790 have been in negotiations with the San Francisco Unified School District since last October. Last month, the old contract expired, leaving workers free to agitate for better working conditions.

The most recent contract offer by District officials included a 2 percent raise, three more paid vacation days and a commitment to fully funding the workers’ retirement plans, according to a District statement. Union members rejected the proposal Friday, setting the stage for Monday’s action, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

District officials indicated that workers lacking a doctor’s excuse for not working Monday will not be allowed to count the day as a sick day. Union leaders repeatedly denied organizing the mass absence.

Last week, district superintendent Ackerman sent a letter to parents seeking their assistance if workers walked off the job Monday. According to news accounts, parents and other volunteers did just that to make up for the approximately 20 percent of support staff participating in the call-in.

Most union workers returned on Tuesday, the Bay City News said. Union leaders anticipate holding a strike vote in September unless SFUSD officials come back with a better contract offer.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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