San Francisco News

SF school secretaries facing layoffs

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Parents at a number of schools in San Francisco are upset over possible layoffs, not of teachers, but school secretaries. The layoffs have to do with a city policy that allows junior union workers to be bumped by senior ones.

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Parents and teachers say as a secretary, Alice Lin has been the backbone of the Tenderloin Community School in San Francisco.

"She is just efficient, warm and she is just a rock for this school," Midge Wilson of the Tenderloin Community School told ABC7.

They marched to City Hall to protest the fact that Lin will likely be laid off or transferred to a job she has never done before. Her union, the Service Employees international Union, cannot stop it. Instead, the union will put a soon-to-be laid off city health care worker with more seniority in her place.

"Say I've been there 20 years and somebody else has been there for 15 years. The person with 20 years has more seniority and therefore they can bump the person with 15 years," SEIU member Brenda Barros explained. "Even if they have no experience in that job."

It's called "bumping." The City of San Francisco says it is following an 85-year-old law.

"It's more than city policy. It's state law. The rules to administer are set by the Civil Service Commission which is a public body," city human resources Director Micki Callahan said.

Financially, the San Francisco Unified School District is not in the position to hire both a city employee while retaining Lin.

"This puts us in a difficult position because we are going to have to go ahead and have our employees get bumped because of the city layoffs," San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Gentle Blythe said.

About 60 district employees will be affected. Earlier this year, the district sued to stop the city from bumping school secretaries like Lin. The district lost, but two San Francisco supervisors are introducing legislation that would help keep some city health employees from being laid off.

The measure would divert money from the general fund to keep those positions intact. By doing so, there would be no need to bump other city and district employees.

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