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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Yet Another Unfair Labor Practice

If you watch enough Board meetings you will eventually see one of these, a PERC decision.

These occur when the District engages in unfair labor practices. I'd say that we see about two of these a year. The superintendent is directly responsible for all of them.

Well, folks, it looks like there will be another one coming soon.

Remember how happy everyone was with the new promotion to get more high school kids to eat breakfast? Well I guess not everyone was happy about it. West Seattle High School has unilaterally reduced the most popular breakfast period from 15 minutes last school year to only 5 minutes this year. An average of about 200 kids a day ate "2nd Breakfast" at WSHS.

The schedule change was implemented with no notice to the Labor Relations, General Counsel’s office or the union despite repeated past (legal) commitments from Central Administration that such unilateral actions would never be allowed again, and a caution (from the longtime Kitchen Manager) that such notice was required by law and previous findings against the District. These commitments were required to be read aloud at School Board public meetings and entered into the official record such as you have been required to do on other issues more recently.

There is no question that 200 West Seattle High kids cannot get through one cashier (much less eat) in 5 minutes. The result will certainly be even fewer kids eating a breakfast there.

Since the union only learned of this unilateral action the day before it began (and got no response whatsoever from HR), they were left with only one avenue to register their objections and the intent of the law: a complaint to the Public Employment Relations Commission.

While we applaud Mr. Boutin and try to welcome him, unilateral actions taken be schools themselves with little or no oversight, makes it extremely difficult to improve relations with the kitchen staff and their union.

Yet another labor relations misstep.

And, of course, fewer students at West Seattle High School eating some kind of breakfast.

16 comments:

Josh Hayes said...

I'm sorry, but this story is completely incoherent.

I understand the new nutrition dude wants to roll out the new program. It sounds like a great idea to me.

So, is the problem that the staff at WSHS don't want to deal with it? Or that SPS central has put the kibosh on it? Or what?

In short: who is saying no to what? What was the original plan? Who proposed it? Who's complaining? It's all so darn confusing, it makes me want to (WV) verch.

dan dempsey said...

Remember the entire admin at WSHS is new. All three Admin left and none remain.

So did a new administrator come up with the 5 minute breakfast?

Here is what I found when checking the schedule on the WSHS website:
======
West Seattle High School
Bell Schedule 2010-2011

Beginning of the year Maintenance is taking place.

The Bell Schedule will be updated ASAP
======

WOW shouldn't this maintenance take place a few weeks before school.

SP said...

Josh- WSHS has had a "second breakfast" for years (20 minute break), in addition to serving a regular breakfast before school. It was loved by some & considered a waste by others. There was also another 10 minute afternoon break, and a 15-minute daily optional tutorial, so lots of hallway time added up. With a new principal & 2 new APs only after school ended, there has been no news to the community about what changes were in the works.

Site-based management once again can either be a great thing, or one gone astray (with little or no oversight). Unfortunately, the latter seems to happen at a lot of Seattle schools (but Central oversight surely hasn't done any better!).

I get the part about not giving proper notice to the union when schedules need to be changed, but I don't get the need for 200 students (<20%) to eat a "second" breakfast at 9:30am in the morning for 20 minutes of school time, when breakfast is also served before school for those needing to eat. Of course some kids will choose to eat a later breakfast rather than rushing in the morning, if it's available! Lunch was then served just 1-1/2 hours later, at 11:00am, barely time to burp.

What other high schools have a full second breakfast, and is it really nutritionally "best practice"? What about the oversight of all those other breaks during the day?

workingmom said...

Seattle Parent

The second breakfast is a break in classes that allows students (due to bus schedules,etc.)that don't get an opportunity to eat before classes start, to eat.

The new program mentioned features more fresh (and canned,etc.) fruit, yogurt and the like (and less prepared sweets like "glazed" rolls)for personal choice nutrition and an earlier thread explained such offerings as very successful elsewhere.

Most Seatthigh schools have had them for a long time. When properly dealt with, the workers union regularly agrees with changes that are contemplated. They did this year at our school (Rainier Beach) with no problem. We owe that to our principal.

Dave said...

Josh

The union is making a legal "complaint" (that's the term). SPS central appears supportive but some schools tend to do whatever they want these days. "SPS central" could change it tomorrow if there were the genuine will and/or true accountability within.

It is the administration at WSHS (who really all know better) that has made the change. They did'nt "propose" anything, just did it.

Don't verch quite yet, at least not over the post. Verch over "the game".

SP said...

Once again, what's best for the majority of the kids is lost in the discussion. Only 200 out of approx. 1200 kids (last year) were making use of a second breakfast. Is it really a necessity or just a convenience that has become a "necessity"?

Out of the 10 comprehensive high schools, only 4 currently have extended 10-20 min. morning breaks, including passing time (Ballard, Garfield, Ingraham & RBHS). Ballard used to have a longer 20 min. break, but for the past few years has done with a 10 minute break, including passing time and still manages to serve breakfast (a la carte or full breakfast). It is also a much larger school than WSHS. The union was given notice & the break time was shortened.

Secondly, the "union rules" have been used as an excuse for years as to why the second breakfast schedule couldn't be shortened at WSHS. One year in February parents asked about changing it for the following September, and were told by the school admin. that that was too short notice! So 1,200 kids once again had to have shorter classroom instruction in order for the union staff to be accomodated, even with 8 month's notice (and the majority of Seattle high schools setting a more academically sound example).

Charlie Mas said...

Here's an idea.

If you're in a position of authority and you're thinking of making a decision that impacts other people, go to those other people and share the idea with them before you make the decision. Ask them if there could be some negative consequences from the decision. Ask them what they think of it.

The decision-maker is still in authority and can still make the decision, but now they have more and better information and the people affected have had an opportunity to have their say.

Dave said...

Seatte Parent

As workingmom said, our union has approved of each timely request made to us and it is not "union rules" that require this, it is the law.

State of Washington that has found against the SSD repeatedly for the casual poor faith manner in which they handle such matters.

Dave said...

The idea is (like any respectful relationship) that if either party wants a change, they let the other party know, discuss and try to reach an understanding. Its called good faith.

A good example is if I did'nt want to do the laundry anymore at home. Would it be my wife's fault ("wife rules"?) if she objected if I simply stopped doing it and let it pile up until she has no clean clothes? I think not.

In good faith, I would let her know of my feelings and try to work something out.

If I care enough about the relationship, I will act like an adult. If I really care less and have nothing to lose except taxpayer money, I would handle it the District way.

Hint: Read the "Plaintiff settlement" motion for last Wednesday's Board actions (or one of the PERC postings such as Charlie has posted) for proof of how the district approaches these things.

SP said...

Sad to say Dave, I guess you proved my point (...what's best for the majority of the kids is lost in the discussion).

I do understand the need to follow the rules for changing the schedule and do understand how it directly affects the union members who are impacted, and I'm not at all supporting the district's methods of action. But you did not even hint at acknowledging the bigger picture of how 1,200 students are impacted daily with an academic schedule which is inequitable compared to the majority of high schools in Seattle. These are some of the "negative consequences" that Charlie is perhaps referring to.

A student who is struggling to pass his classes at WSHS is getting 45 hours less instruction in all of his classes every year than a student at Roosevelt (or Sealth, Cleveland, Franklin & Hale), because of the long 2nd breakfast.

There's much more to lose "than just taxpayer's money". I would hope that any respectful relationship that you refer to would also consider the impact on the student's education in these discussions.

Dave said...

I am not discounting (or missing) your point at all. Certainly valid needs of students are extremely important and very significant in any such consideration. They have and continue to provide the very basis for all changes that have been made cooperatively. Its only the innappropriately (illegally)done changes that bring about litigation.

However, all of the schools you mention (except Hale) also have 2 lunches in their schedules.

Also, please don't miss my point; SSD has lost every case on this issue for over 15 years and just keeps doing the same thing. I think there is a word for those who do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.

Should'nt we expect better from administraton? What happened to lifelong learning?phockli

We can only hope for true accountability at some future point.

Dave said...

Hope everone understands that "phockli" was my "word verification" and should have been edited out before typing it in a second time without checking where the first one went.

Sorry

Jan said...

What happened to lifelong learning?phockli


Dave -- oh no! I thought it was a really cool "epithet" that I had never heard of before -- sort of like "horsepucky!" or "phooey!" -- but better.

WV says -- "bledeve!" and I think I agree.

Dave said...

Yeah, I wish I was that cool.

Just poor sight and absentminded.

Anonymous said...

I applaud the new NS director for wanting to increase breakfast participation. As working mom mentioned there are many reasons that students may not be able to take advantage of that before school breakfast service time. The second breakfast time option over the years has really proven to fill that gap.

We are trying to encourage students to eat nutritous and healthy foods by making informed decisions. Having them rush through in a feeding frenzy certainly does not coincide with this model. Pushing 200 students through in such a small time slot at best is chaotic, and definitely stressful on all parties involved.

No meal service can, nor should be a one size fits all. Individual programs do vary from school to school and those time constraints, and needs, should be considered.

Our goal is to educate the students to make informed healthy choices, so let's give them the proper time to do so.

The elimination or altering of a meal service time without consideration of its impact is ultimately not in the best interest of the students.

Longtime Manager

borwaxen said...

I agree, Longtime Manager: there are too many documented studies on the importance of breakfast -- and many reasons (including, too sleepy to eat well because of the hour the District imposes as the start of school) why kids don't get good breakfasts at home. This one -- we can do, and we should.