Tonight, many of you received a communication from SPS that designated you as an "essential employee" and provided a directive regarding childcare. This communication came through at 8 pm while your SEA representatives were in the middle of a special representative assembly to discuss our work during the closure. This District communication does not represent a negotiated agreement between SEA and SPS on child care.
The MOA language around "essential employees" relates to employees' regular job duties. The ask around child care is outside of the regular duties of SEA represented employees, and therefore needs to be bargained. The District is obligated to negotiate the terms of any changes in working conditions with the union.
The communication from SPS tonight does not represent a negotiated agreement. SEA rejects the SPS child care plan as presented as it does not address all of the needs of our members and students. On 3/31, SEA presented SPS with a proposal (attached here) that clearly outlined member needs around providing childcare. Rather than work together to find a solution on key pieces of the proposal, SPS responded with "no" and moved forward on imposing their plan outside of the required bargaining process. SEA has asked the district for additional information around expectations for members tasked with providing care, the daily plan for activities, and survey results from parents that demonstrate community need. As of the district email tonight, that information has still not been provided.
Many SEA members have expressed interest in supporting these efforts and some members have already signed up to volunteer to assist in providing childcare. Our advocacy work with the district has focused on ensuring the health and safety of those who volunteer to step into these roles and to ensure fair compensation for the additional risk involved and the work outside of regular contract hours.
SEA acknowledges our members' willingness to volunteer to support the community. We also have a responsibility to ensure our members' safety and rights are protected, especially in such an unprecedented and dangerous situation.
Tonight, SEA Association Representatives (ARs) voted overwhelmingly to reject the SPS childcare plan as presented. The SEA representative assembly clearly voted that they believe no member should be compelled to provide this care and that SEA instruct members not to sign up for mandatory child care duties. See Article VII, Employee Benefits and Protection, Section C PROTECTION OF EMPLOYEES, STUDENTS AND PROPERTY in cert contract, Article III, Section O in Para/SAEOP contracts.
In addition, SEA encourages the Governor, Mayor, and District to identify more appropriate methods for staffing childcare centers, including hiring unionized community childcare providers who are facing negative economic impacts during this time. SEA is committed to partnering with the District and the City of Seattle to identify funding and support for our unionized community childcare professionals to provide these critical services to our first responders during this global healthcare crisis.
We will continue to keep SEA members informed throughout this time. Thank you for everything you continue to do for our community.
SEA Governance Team