The Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, Local 1936, received its charter in 1969, as a Local of the American Federation of Teachers. The enfranchisement of the Charter was initiated by Pajaro Valley teachers who felt that AFT could better serve their needs and could more aggressively work to forward the interests of teachers within the District. The Charter members of the Local were impressed with AFT's commitment to democratic ideals and organization, and by its record of effective teacher representation. From a deeply-committed nucleus of 21 charter members, the Local grew to be an important force in the struggle for teacher advocacy in the Pajaro Valley.
During the next few years, the Union shared the position of representing the District's teachers with the Pajaro Valley Education Association (CTA) on the seven-member Negotiations Council. Though the PVFT representatives were a minority on the Council, they demonstrated capable and effective leadership and representation of District teachers. In 1973 the Union played a key leadership role in the successful four-day strike by Pajaro Valley teachers for improved salaries and working conditions. Teachers were impressed by the competent leadership demonstrated by the staff of AFT and CFT, as well as that of our own Local.
Under collective bargaining legislation, which became effective in 1975, teachers in California school districts were to be represented in negotiations by only one organization. Pajaro Valley teachers initially elected to be represented by the Pajaro Valley Education Association. Local 1936 concentrated on building membership and maintained a persistent role in the cause of teacher advocacy. In April, 1978, the Union moved to decertify the PVEA as bargaining agent for the District's teachers. The Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers won the hard-fought election, and has ably represented PVUSD teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses since that time.
Gains for Teachers Under The Union
The Union has made significant gains for teachers and other certificated staff of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. We have fought for and won consistent salary increases for our teachers. In our first nine years as bargaining agent, we have more than doubled the salaries in the District, and our minimum salary is now the highest in the county. We have negotiated compensation for State-mandated (SB 813) increases in working days and working hours. We have won for teachers a greatly improved fringe benefits package, featuring the cost containment of self-funded health insurance. We have negotiated the “Golden Handshake,” whereby early retirees (55- 62 years of age) receive yearly payments, and we have secured fringe benefits for retirees (55 years of age, with ten years of service in the District) until age 65.
In terms of working conditions, the Union has instituted a negotiated calendar involving teacher input, and has greatly reduced the extra-curricular workload of classroom teachers. All K-12 teachers have a prep period! We have been a strong advocate of the preparation period for all classroom teachers, K-12. We have negotiated a maximum class size of 32 (for K-3) and 34 (4-12), and we are working to lower it further.
The Union has aggressively defended the rights of teachers-in grievance and unfair labor practice proceedings and in the courts, using the excellent legal services available to us through our affiliation with AFT and CFT. The Union provides its members with $1,000,000 of professional liability insurance-an invaluable benefit indeed.
The bargaining unit represented by the Union has been increased and strengthened during the Union's stewardship. We have included Adult Education teachers and Independent Study teachers in the unit. Last year, we were among the winners in the AFT Full Membership Drive.
Local 1936 has been prominent on the District's Budget, Safety, and Sabbatical Leave Committees, and we were actively involved in establishing the evaluation procedure for teachers. We are represented on all District committees, and we meet regularly with the Superintendent prior to meetings of the Governing Board so that we can offer our input. The Union has worked to maintain effective and productive relations with the District staff. Indeed, the Union is well respected by the District administration.
We are proud of our record!
(Rudy Pedulla, contributor)