By Dominic Rizzi
The Oak Grove Educators Association is a local chapter of the California Teachers Association that represents 512 members in the Oak Grove School District. When OGEA joined forces with the National Educators Association and the California Teachers Association, we helped to bring much needed attention to the crises affecting public education. OGEA participated in #RedForEd activities throughout the year, including walk outs, wearing RedForEd on Solidarity Days, making signs and distributing information to our community about the effects of unregulated charters on our public school system and the need for increasing state funding to provide quality education for ALL California students.
The #RedForEd movement showed our public educator power and the power of unions protecting our most precious institution -- all in the light of the JANUS Supreme Court Case ruling that landed in July 2018. Our union power is stronger than ever as we witnessed historical strikes throughout the state in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Union City, and others. Charter school encroachment, declining enrollment, increases in students with special needs and lack of funding to support them… all contributed to our challenges this year throughout the state and here in our community.
It is the power of the union that helped us to elect local leaders to our school board that are public education friendly and seek to bring transparency and trust to our district in the community. In the wake of two school closures last year, our staff and students endured the challenges of consolidation with transfers to new sites and building community with new staff and students. OGEA has attended every board meeting with site representation to observe and participate in the discussions of curriculum adoptions and needs, new job descriptions for TOSAs, district-wide systems audit, and advocating for our students and programs in the district.
OGEA successfully bargained two articles introducing new evaluation language to reflect all OGEA members and added stipends for teachers supporting induction and stipends for advanced certification in all OGEA job fields . While OGEA did not negotiate for a salary increase in 2018-2019, negotiations continue in 10 articles including compensation for the 2019-2022 contract. Our bargaining team continues to meet with the district to reach tentative agreements around transfers and association rights ensuring OGEA access to new hires at the new hire orientation and throughout the year to engage potential new members.
New leadership joined us this year on our executive board with Maripaz Berlin as Vice President, new committees and committee chairs with Jennifer Spiteri for Membership Engagement, Kellee Humphrey building our Human Rights and Equity committee, Kirat Sachdev as our LGBTQ+ Contact, Skye Johnson as our Woman’s Issues Contact, Jamie Backman as Elections Chair, Brenna Juull and Sara Overby as Organizing Co-chairs, and all of our new site reps. See our article about OGEA’s new leadership to learn about all our new leaders supporting you and OGEA.
With so much accomplished and more challenges ahead as we wrap up 18-19 and prepare for 19-20, OGEA prepares to identify candidates and potentially supporting a parcel tax measure for the 2020 election. As a result of spending down our Political Action Committee Fund to support 3 school board members, OGEA Rep Council approved the increase of voluntary PAC contributions from $1 a month to $2 a month. There will be a specific memo about this voluntary increase coming soon. This increase will take effect in the Fall 2019 and members will receive a form to complete to indicate opting out of contributing to PAC, maintaining their $1 a month or increasing to $2 a month. The next school board race will be for trustee area 1 (Mary Noel) and area 4 (John Mackey). PAC contributions allow us to identify and support candidates who share the values of our association and district in putting students first. We are currently looking to identify a PAC committee chair and team to help interview and coordinate political actions for our school district area. Please email President@ogea.org for any questions or comments.