United Educators of San Francisco has reached an agreement with the San Francisco Unified School District that will save the jobs of hundreds of teachers and paraprofessionals. In order to deal with a two-year budget deficit of more than $100 million, the superintendent and school board had announced plans to lay off 811 teachers—nearly one in five of the union’s teacher members—and 277 paraprofessionals at the end of the school year, which would have led to dramatic increases in class sizes in the city’s public schools.
But a late-night bargaining session produced the agreement, which is still being finalized by both sides. While it will save many jobs, more than 200 members will still be laid off. USEF president Dennis Kelly, who is an AFT vice president, told the members of the AFT’s executive council at a meeting May 13 that the agreement is not a great victory, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Kelly credited the active involvement of USEF’s members with helping win the agreement. Those efforts included rallies, letter writing, e-mails, phone calls, and ads on buses and trains, with many of the activities tied to the AFT’s “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” campaign. A special campaign website pulls together many of the details about the union’s fight, its allies in the community, and the issues involved in the budget battle. [Dan Gursky, United Educators of San Francisco]

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