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July 20, 2020

In this Issue: Black Lives Matter, RECN, For Us By Us, SROs and the School Board, Impact Bargaining Update

Dear HEA Members,

Please know that staff and student health and safety is our number one shared priority at the bargaining table. Dr. Enfield indicated today that District leadership has been collaborating with other districts in the region. Several of these districts, including Highline, plan to make an important announcement on Wednesday.

Thank you for taking time to actively engage in recent surveys, listening sessions, focus groups, and district webinars.  Our professional expertise and experience are crucial for creating a viable plan — one that safeguards the lives, health and educational needs of educators, students and families.  Please know that your views are being heard and actively addressed at the bargaining table. We are ahead of many surrounding locals in this regard and are now on pause, waiting for additional guidance and planning for the coming academic year.  At the end of this newsletter, you will find an update on the work of the joint bargaining team this past week.  We return to the bargaining table for both impact bargaining and our full CBA bargain during the first week of August.

In addition to HEA, WEA has been busy formulating its response based on your needs.  On Thursday at 1:00, WEA will be hosting a virtual townhall in which President Larry Delaney will be discussing COVID-19 and the return to education this fall.  Email questions ahead of time to WEA. Turn to their page for updated information on your rights as an educator during this health crisis, what your colleagues are saying, ways to alleviate stress, and more.  

Over the next few weeks, your continued advocacy should be directed at OSPI Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Governor Jay Inslee.  Given the contrast of reopening plans between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (go back 100% in person, no excuses) and Presidential Candidate Joe Biden (don’t go back until it’s safe and let’s spend $30 Billion to help schools), may I also suggest you upgrade your donation to the NEA Fund in order to ensure a victory for fact over fiction this fall.  Your onetime $20.20 donation will help fund pro-education candidates across the nation.

In the midst of this work, your 2020-21 Executive Board and Rainier UniServ Council (RUC) leaders are committed to overcoming systems of oppression within our own union.  Please take some time to read through this letter, check out the links, and attend one or more of the events listed in order to learn more about where we are heading as a union and a profession.  To that end, please mark August 10th on your calendar as the first opportunity to come together as a general membership to review our internal culture and systems and start the change process.  Watch for a registration link at the beginning of August.

Finally, I am hoping to take a few days off to recharge and hopefully you can, too! 
I sincerely believe that the best course of action at this stage of the bargaining process is to take some time for self-care.  WEA has a few resources and suggestions for you. Watch for the next EFocus to land in your email during the first week of August.

Thank you for your amazing support and advocacy!


Black Lives Matter. 
“A just society begins with a just education.”  Within WEA, NEA and through the work of our own local, we must continue to reassess our role in the education of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students.  HEA stands firm in our commitment to rebuilding a system that breaks down barriers and uplifts the voices and experiences of our students.  Promoting the demands of Black Lives Matter at School is one clear and actionable step that HEA has taken.  We have started this work with the district and will continue to prioritize it as we step up and into the next school year.  Please take time to learn about this national movement if you have not done so already. 

For those of us who are white educators, in particular, HEA leaders are asking that we take this time to reflect, gain new knowledge, and grow into more aware and more effective educators and colleagues.  Over this summer, WEA trainers, other service providers, and the NEA are promoting rich and relevant opportunities for personal and professional growth for all members.  Almost all sessions offer clock hours and are free.  If tuition is charged for any WEA training, however, please email your receipt to Portia Robinson for reimbursement after your attendance.  Email Lori Fleck if you need help finding your member ID number. 

Closer to home, we have our incredible RECN (Rainier Educators of Color Network) team located within our own Rainier UniServ which will be leading some of the work in partnership with HEA in the coming year.  Please register for RECN’s next session, being held this Thursday 4:30-6:30.  If you have been a part of HARWE (Highline Antiracist White Educators) or have considered signing up in the past, we are joining forces with allies and accomplices within RECN, so please feel welcome to register for Thursday.

For us, By us Mini-series.
A big shout out goes to 14 early career, BIPOC, Women and non-binary education union activists for stepping up and creating a 4-part live stream mini-series called For us, By us.  All members are invited to join these summer sessions sponsored by the WEA Early Career Educator Caucus.  Register here for Session 1 this Thursday 6:00:  The “B” in BIPOC:  Black Educator Experiences in a Very White Washington. Register here for Session 2 on July 30: Seattle Police Officers Guild OUT! Education Workers Respond to BLM, which covers the work of BIPOC leaders across the county to convince the MLK Labor Council to remove the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild from the council. Visit the WEA PD Network for more information on Sessions  3 and 4 coming in August.

SROs and the School Board. 
At the July 22 school board meeting, directors will again take up the issue of removing SROs from schools.  Public comments to the directors are due by noon, on the day of board meetings.  Use this link for more details.

Impact Bargaining Update. 
Your impact bargaining team met with the district on July 15 and 17 and had productive discussions around the return to learning in the 2020-21 school year. We maintain a commitment to problem-solve all of the issues that emerge as we plan to successfully start and progress safely throughout the academic year. We will meet next the first week in August.  Additionally, special groups will be brought together to address their unique needs in a more targeted and efficient manner.

We have a shared agreement that staff and student health and safety is the top priority.  We spent a large portion of our time developing options and solutions for a long list of health and safety issues. As Dr. Enfield has consistently reiterated, “We will NOT open our buildings unless and until Public Health tells us it is safe to do so.”  While we have not yet discussed the impact of any model or mode of instruction delivery on our work load, we remain committed to providing a rich and engaging educational model for all of our students regardless of the model that is being used.  We also jointly recognized that reaching a shared agreement on leave options and access is important to all employees. We therefore spent considerable time developing clarity around leave and reassignment options for employees based on concerns raised by members through listening sessions, surveys and other communication channels.

In our future discussions, our shared interest will remain ensuring both safe learning environments and instructional models that are effective in meeting the needs of all learners, including those furthest from educational justice. We also agree all learning models will need a strong focus on social emotional learning and closing opportunity gaps.  In all models, staff collaboration is being prioritized to support a consistent experience for families and staff across the District.  Finally, in the coming year, HEA and HSD acknowledge the ongoing importance of access to digital tools and tech literacy support for every model under discussion.   At some point in the bargaining process, the teams will need to explore the impacts of more than one model of learning, including an all remote model and a hybrid model, in case different models are accessed at some point in the school year. 

We reached a shared agreement on a draft calendar for release on the district’s website.  We agreed to maintain the total number of school and work days but repurposed our waiver days, placing them at the beginning of the school year to prioritize building relationships with students and families as well as ensuring access to technology and tech-literacy support for our families regardless of the model.  This also provides some options for additional time for professional development.

Again, please watch for a district announcement on Wednesday.  Just to clarify, joint agreements reached through bargaining the return to learning in the fall of 2020 as well as changes to the CBA as a result of open contract bargaining will need to be approved by the general membership prior to the start of the school year.