Superintendent of Schools
Our Board of Education and our administrators embrace our unions. You likely have been following some of the press regarding the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teacher union, the United Teacher of Los Angeles. I will respectfully refrain from commenting on their specific conflict. However, the attention that this struggle has received is worthy of sharing our RBUSD context.
RBUSD is unique in that we have three unions: Redondo Beach Teachers Association (RBTA, our teachers, psychologists, counselors, nurses, and speech/language pathologists), California School Employees Association (CSEA, typically our clerical and custodial staff), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT, our CDC teachers). The RBUSD administration, in collaboration with our Board of Education, negotiates with each of our unions separately and annually. When we meet with our union partners, the negotiation process usually focuses on contract language and employee compensation. Both RBUSD administration and our unions find similar interests “at the table” and work diligently to find common ground that is beneficial to students, their employee members, and our thriving school district.
I can assure you, sincerely, that having collaborated with and negotiated with RBTA, CSEA, and AFT over the last 13 years, we have worked carefully to respect the negotiation process, to respect one another’s interests, and to remind all of us that the students we serve are the key to our ultimate mission and success. We have had lean financial years (the Great Recession) and more recently brighter economic times. In each instance, we realized settlements with our union partners that resulted in RBUSD moving forward for the betterment of its students as well as the employees we cherish.
Our Board of Education is to be credited for our strong partnership with our unions. They certainly believe in building a healthy financial reserve in preparation for the next recession. Our Board of Education also believes in our 1,400+ employees who not only show up each day but show up excited to provide a model educational program for the students we so proudly serve. Sometimes, I would agree, it starts at the top; our Board of Education deserves much of the credit when it comes to our healthy union relationships.
Why am I writing this, really? First, I’m here to clearly share that our union leaders are respected and appreciated by the Board of Education and administration. This respect has been earned. Second, our situation in RBUSD is very different from what we see in some neighboring communities. This is another reason why our school district is so successful. Third, I do not believe that I have ever read a superintendent write publicly about unions and union leadership unless there was a pressing or sensitive issue. There is so much respect for RBTA, CSEA, and AFT. RBUSD is a better school district thanks to the relationship that we mutually maintain with our union partners.
Steven Keller, Ed.D.
Proud Superintendent of Schools