99.3% of San Francisco Teachers & Paras Vote YES in First of Two Strike Votes

César Chávez Elementary School teacher Geri Almanza, holding her young daughter, speaks at a press conference this morning in front of her school. Geri spoke of the incredible work educators do every day in our schools, and the need to give us a fighting chance to raise our families in the communities we serve.


As the school year begins in the San Francisco Unified School District today, the UESF Elections Committee reports that 99.29% of teachers who attended our General Membership Meeting last Thursday voted yes in the first of two strike votes, sending a strong message to the school district that we are serious about our demands at the bargaining table. According to results certified by the committee, of the 2,251 votes cast at the first strike vote meeting last Thursday at Washington High School, only sixteen people voted no.

UESF members stand firm in our contract demands for a 21% raise over three years because as rents and the cost of living in San Francisco continue to skyrocket, too many educators are getting forced out of the city, destabilizing school communities, and ultimately hurting the students.

The problem is particularly acute for paraprofessionals, who earn on average $25,000 a year despite working with the most vulnerable students, including children with special needs and low-income and immigrant families. UESF members are also standing firm on the need for greater support in the classroom, including additional staffing and preparation time for educators who work with special needs students and daily preparation time for elementary school teachers.

“We must do what we can to ensure educators have a fighting chance to live the communities we serve and the support we need to do our jobs,” said UESF President Dennis Kelly, who spoke at a press conference this morning at César Chávez Elementary School.

“Teachers are professionals: We want to provide the highest quality, most innovative instruction possible,” says Geri Almanza, a Bilingual Classroom teacher at César Chávez Elementary School, who also spoke today as her daughter looked on. “But to do that we need a fair wage, adequate preparation time,  the opportunity to collaborate, and the smaller class sizes that give us a chance to provide individual attention to the children that need it most.”

Contract talks between the union and SFUSD are in mediation, with a gag order from the bargaining table. As part of our ongoing organizing efforts, UESF promises a robust community outreach campaign in the coming weeks, an effort we hope will help convince the district to come to a settlement at the bargaining table, short of a final strike vote.

“We are committed to getting a contract through mediation and are serious about seeing the process through,” adds Dennis Kelly. “We hope the district is equally serious about reaching a deal too.”

In order to go on strike, UESF would be required to hold a second strike vote, and the mediation process with the school district would have to complete it’s final stage of fact finding with no agreement in place.

Two Part-Time UESF Area Representative Positions Now Open

UESF is looking to hire two new Area Representatives for next school year. Area Representatives works with the UESF Communications Director and with UESF Staff Representatives to promote the interests of the union at school sites, in the district, and citywide.

The part-time position (20 hours per month) pays $25 per hour and is perfect for recent retirees who served as Building Reps or on Union Building Committees, or current members who are ready to take the next step in their activism. Area Reps are an essential part of UESF organizing efforts, helping to organize UBCs and to lead UESF campaigns.

Contact Communications Director Matthew Hardy at 956-8373 or mhardy [at] uesf [dot] org for more information. No formal resume is required, however, applicants will be asked to list their relevant union, volunteer, and organizing experience and to interview for the position.

Interviews will take place between July 16-18. Positions will be filled by August 1, 2014. For a complete job description click here.

Learn Hidden History and Earn CEUs in Popular Labor History Course at CCSF

Gwendoly Byfield, picket captain at Kahn’s Department Store, during the Oakland General Strike of 1946.

California Labor History
Wednesday evenings, 6:30 p.m.
Starts August 18, 2014
CCSF Mission Campus
*All UESF members who complete the course will have their fees reimbursed by the union.

Details here.

In California Labor History, a three unit CCSF course starting August 18th, you can learn that the fight for a more equitable society stretches back to the Mission era. The course also places UESF’s parent organizations, the NEA and AFT, in historical context, and contemporary union struggles and issues within the broader stream of labor history. Highly recommended by the dozens of UESF members who have taken the course!

Vergara Verdict Flawed, Like Lawsuit Itself

On June 10th, in a move being hailed by corporate education ‘reformers’ and Arne Duncan, a Southern California judge delivered a deeply troubling ruling on the Vergara lawsuit.

CTA, CFT, and the state of California have already vowed to appeal the verdict, which would strip teachers of seniority and due process rights while doing nothing to increase funding or services for students.

Watch UESF President Dennis Kelly set the record straight on the misguided Vergara ruling in this segment, which ran live on Sunday, June 15th on CBS 5.


Also, don’t miss this powerful critique of the ruling by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times, and this analysis by former UESF Executive Vice-President Linda Plack.

Dennis Kelly also speaks out against the ruling in this KTVU piece below…

Thanks to all who volunteered for the June 3rd election!

UESF paraprofessional leaders Cathy O’Byrne-Shewchuck and Tom Harriman were part of the solid crew of UESF members who volunteered for the David Campos for Assembly campaign.


Thanks to all who took the time to vote and volunteer in the June 3rd election. With so much money being poured into the election by those who seek to undermine our public school system and our profession, it was old-fashioned volunteer work that proved so important in the election. Find out from Steve Smith from the California Labor Federation why the June 3rd election was such a big win for working people.

May 27th March & Rally at the Board of Education

Thanks to all for a great rally on May 27th!

Thanks to the hundreds of UESF members and supporters who came out to the Board of Education meeting on May 27th to rally in support of keeping teachers and paras in San Francisco.

Special thanks to the Brass Liberation Orchestra for bringing such wonderful music to the demonstration and Supervisor David Campos for lending his support.

Let’s hope the SFUSD understands just how dire the situation is getting for educators who are getting priced out of our city.

Check out some of the media we received from the demonstration:

CBS 5: Teachers Being Priced Out Of San Francisco’s Booming Real Estate Market. Featuring Cristina Fiori from New Traditions Elementary who is regrettably leaving the SFUSD because of the high cost of living.


KRON 4: VIDEO: Teachers Rally for Better Wages. Burton HS teacher Brendan Furey gives a great example of why it is so important that educators live in the city they work.

Check Out our Facebook Photo Album of UESF T-Shirt Days

Thanks to all of the UESF members who are regularly holding t-shirt days at your school sites in support of the UESF contract campaign.

Check out our photo album up on the UESF Facebook page.

Don’t see you’re your school photo up there? Email photos to UESF Communications Director Matthew Hardy at mhardy [at] uesf [dot] org.

Why SFUSD Needs Teachers in the Community

Buena Vista Horace Mann teachers Norman Zelaya and Frank Lara testify in front of the San Francisco Board of Education about how they are grateful to work and serve in the City of San Francisco, and what is at stake if educators get priced out of the city they love.

For more on UESF contract negotiations, please click here.