CSEA's Response to the Crisis
Q: What is CSEA doing to protect the health and rights of its members?
A: From day one of the pandemic, CSEA has fought hard to keep our members safe and their rights protected.
At the chapter level, CSEA took the lead early to bargain special agreements with districts to better protect our members, including return to work agreements and more than 640 memorandums of understanding with different employers.
At the State Capitol, CSEA helped establish historic layoff protections for classified employees as part of the 2020-21 state budget agreement. Complete layoff protections were secured this year for Nutrition, Transportation and Custodial employees in K-12 and community colleges. Now, CSEA has sponsored AB 438 (Reyes) which would ensure that all classified employees permanently receive the same layoff worker protections as teachers and certified administrators.
The safety of school employees is a paramount concern for CSEA. That’s why CSEA and a coalition of education labor groups recently presented lawmakers with a pathway for reopening schools in an equitable way that keeps both students and staff safe. The proposal, called Classroom Learning and Safe Schools for Employees and Students (CLASSES), included in this were mitigation strategies that consider community conditions and vaccination prioritization for employees who are already working in person at LEA work sites.
Shortly after CLASSES was distributed, AB 86 was passed, providing school communities an opportunity to return safely with funding designated reopening, learning loss mitigation and paraprofessional hiring.
CSEA has also created a public awareness campaign to help school officials, lawmakers and the community understand that classified employees are essential workers. Members are encouraged to share CSEA’s video, “We are Essential,” and use CSEA’s Essential Worker badges and graphics.
Q: What communication will CSEA provide to its members?
A: CSEA will continue to send weekly Leadership Mail, as well as important email alerts and website updates. Local chapters will work to send frequent bargaining updates and/or chapter newsletters with any information they learn from meetings with their district.
Health and Safety Issues
Q: Does AB 86 require school personnel to be vaccinated before schools can re-open for in person instruction?
A: AB 86 does not require vaccination. Instead, it requires that vaccination priorities are to be consistent across the state.
School staff working in-person in public schools or childcare must be prioritized for vaccines statewide (including access to appointments). Consistent with the Governor’s February announcement, 10 percent of first doses will be set aside statewide to
If a district does require vaccination, CSEA has developed a negotiations proposal designed to deal with that possibility.
Q: Can my employer require I take the new vaccine?
A: Yes, if it has bargained first with CSEA over such a requirement AND you do not have a disability or religious objection. If you do, your employer would by law have to first engage in an interactive process with you and provide reasonable accommodation. In many classified positions, the only accommodation achievable will be an unpaid leave of absence.
In bargaining over such a proposed employer requirement, CSEA would push (for example) for confirmation of your legal right to lost pay and medical expenses if the vaccine were to cause you a severe allergic reaction (which are fortunately very rare). To date, no CSEA employers have insisted on vaccinations (as most employees are eager to receive one). For more info, contact your LRR.
Q: What additional training and supplies could be provided to members tasked with addressing the spread of the virus?
A: Each chapter should demand to bargain for safety training and adequate supplies appropriate for the chapter.
The OSHA website is good resources for available trainings, safety rule and regulations, and hazards materials. Cal/OSHA requires each employer to have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan. This can either be part of the employer’s Industrial Injury Prevention Plan (IIPP) or a separate document.
The standards are fairly detailed about what the Prevention Plan must contain. In addition, they require the employer to identify and evaluate any workplace-specific hazards. The employer must allow employees and any “authorized employee representative” to participate in this evaluation process. This means CSEA must have a seat at the table in developing and/or refining each Prevention Plan.
LRRs and members should refer to the emergency standards themselves for precise details about what each Prevention Plan must contain. In addition, the California Department of Public Health has issued school-specific safety guidance that employers must follow. Please see the Cal/OSHA Emergency Regulation FAQ and Emergency Temporary Standards Flyer for more information about how to keep your worksite safe.
Field Offices are also providing COVID Know Your Rights Training to educate members about their rights and protections while working in a COVID environment. Please contact your LRR for more information.
Q: What can CSEA members do to protect their health?
A: Wash your hands regularly and do not touch your face. Wear a mask—the best type available to you. Stay at least 6 feet away from other people if possible.
If you work in foodservice, a new state law and Executive Order from the Governor (51-20) guarantees you the right to take a break every 30 minutes to wash your hands. Also, check out the recent Cal/OSHA emergency regulation for COVID prevention. It includes, for example, a requirement in subsection (c)(10)(c) that the employer pay workers their regular salaries and benefits if they contract COVID-19 at work and must stay home.
If you see a health safety hazard at your worksite, report it immediately. If your district is not adhering to this regulation, let your Labor Relations Representative or Chapter leaders know right away. Please refer to the California Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites for more guidance and documentation on safety measures and/or concerns.
Ask your Labor Relations Representative about COVID Know Your Rights trainings hosted by your field office.
Q: What if I catch the COVID-19 virus from working?
A: If you think you have caught this virus, don’t be afraid to pay to be tested. The new federal CARES Act requires tests be provided free of charge.
Additionally, CSEA fought hard for the passage of SB 1159, a law which creates a “rebuttable presumption” for school employees as it relates to contracting COVID-19 illness at work.
SB 1159 creates a rebuttable presumption that applies to all employees, including school and community college employees, whose employers have five or more employees. This presumption is effective if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at the employee’s place of employment.
Your Labor Relations Representative will help determine if an outbreak has occurred as defined in the bill.
Even if there is no outbreak, you may still be legally entitled to workers compensation benefits if you contracted the illness at work. These benefits include medical care and disability payments.
If the District resists such a workers’ comp claim, contact your CSEA LRR who can refer you to attorneys who specialize in workers’ comp cases.
Q: Which districts will be required to conduct asymptomatic testing and how will they pay for it?
A: AB 86 (signed into law on March 5, 2021) requires districts to state their testing protocols in their COVID-19 Safety Plan, but it does not require all school districts to conduct testing of asymptomatic individuals, with the following exceptions:
After March 31, schools that provide in-person instruction while in the purple tier will be required to conduct asymptomatic testing consistent with CDPH guidelines if they opt in to the in-person instruction grant funds.
Schools that are providing in-person instruction, or have an adopted plan to, by March 31, may continue to follow their existing testing protocols.
Schools that provide in-person instruction while in the red, orange, or yellow tiers will not be required to maintain asymptomatic testing consistent with CDPH guidance.
LEAs can use their in-person instruction grant funds to pay for testing. In January 2021, LEAs also receive $6 billion in federal funds to support the re-opening of schools, which includes testing. CDPH testing cadences are more rigorous when communities are in the deep purple tier and less rigorous as the COVID-19 rates diminish and the community moves into the red or lower tier. Even if a district is not required to conduct asymptomatic testing, public health experts recommend a regular testing program because COVID-19 is often spread by individuals who are infected but do not show any symptoms.
Q: Can I be required by my employer to get tested for COVID in order to be allowed to work?
A: Yes, if the employer has bargained first with CSEA. The EEOC has held that this is not an illegal invasion of medical privacy. For more info, contact your LRR.
Q: What is the role of coronavirus testing in keeping the workplace safe?
A: Cal/OSHA and the CDPH both call for COVID-19 testing to maintain a safe workplace. When a communicable disease outbreak begins, public health officials recommend testing. The CDPH guidance for schools calls for testing of every employee at least once every two months, to the extent this is feasible.
A major worry with the coronavirus is that people can be infected and can spread the virus to others without exhibiting symptoms themselves. Testing leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people, and immediate isolation to prevent spread. Early testing also helps to identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be quickly treated. Testing is a vital component of protecting students and CSEA members, creating safer working conditions for everyone who may be required to report to the workplace.
Many districts have negotiated agreements with CSEA regarding the impacts of testing on members of the bargaining unit. Coronavirus testing can and must be done safely and in a way that protects employee privacy.
Paid Leave Time
Q: Am I entitled to pay if I must stay home because of reasons related to COVID?
A: Recent Cal/OSHA regulation on COVID requires the employer pay for an employee to stay home if they have an exposure to a positive case within 6 feet of more than 15 minutes within 24 hours.
Also, recently passed Senate Bill 95 (SB 95), provides supplemental paid sick leave for covered employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain reasons related to COVID-19. SB 95 provides all eligible full-time employees with the right to 80 hours paid leave (and part-time employees with a pro-rated portion of 80 hours) if unable to work due to the following COVID-19 causes:
(A) The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 ordered by a government official.
(B) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
(C) The employee is attending an appointment to receive a vaccine for protection against contracting COVID-19.
(D) The employee is experiencing symptoms related to a COVID-19 vaccine that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.
(E) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
(F) The employee is caring for a family member subject to quarantine either due to government order or medical advice.
(G) The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or otherwise unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 on the premises.
Check with your local Chapter or LRR to see if your chapter has negotiated anything in addition to this locally.
Q: Can my employer make me stay home and quarantine just because I traveled out of state? If so, do they have to pay me?
A: First, under Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) an employer must bargain with CSEA over such a new requirement before unilaterally imposing it. Second, the underlying requirement is subject to legal challenge under California Labor Code sections 96(k) and 98.6, which bar adverse actions against employees “for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer’s premises.” However, courts have interpreted these statutes more narrowly as designed to protect political activities. There is also a constitutional right to interstate travel, but it involves a balancing test weighing the interests of the employer against those of the employee. Given the health threats from travel (airplane travel in particular), a legal challenge might not be successful, but districts would risk paying penalties and legal fees if they guess incorrectly that an unpaid travel quarantine is lawful. Contact your LRR immediately if you hear of your district trying to require an unpaid travel quarantine.
Q: What if a member is directed to leave work or not attend work for a period of time due to illness?
A: Members who are feeling ill should have leaves available to them as a result of chapter COVID-19 effects negotiations, the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), recent Cal/OSHA regulations, and/or the California Education Code. If a member has been sent home by the District as a precautionary measure, CSEA believes the District should not deduct the member’s leaves and instead maintain regular pay for the employee while they regain health. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.
Q: Can I use paid leave to take care of a sick family member?
A: Districts are also required by state law to allow you to use your accrued sick leave to take care of family members who are ill under the Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522). There may be other leaves available to you at the chapter level due to agreements negotiated by your chapter. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.
Q: How can members take time off to deal with a childcare crisis caused by a childcare center or school closing due to coronavirus?
A: Many districts also adhere to the provisions in Labor Code section 230.8 providing up to 40 hours of unpaid leave for childcare problems. There may be other leaves available to you at the chapter level due to agreements negotiated by your chapter. Your Labor Relations Representative can assist you.
Return to School
Q: We are back at work—so, is it okay for our chapter to host in-person events?
A: Currently there is a statewide public health order that prohibits gatherings of more than three households, except for certain specified purposes. Generally, at this time, that order prohibits in-person CSEA meetings. Please also check the current laws and guidelines in your county before proceeding with any CSEA event. Local health orders are often subject to change.
CSEA chapters should not ask members to gather together in person to do union business so long as health officials are discouraging such gatherings. In-person events pose an especially high danger of transmission and spread of COVID-19. State orders permit certain employees to perform certain work inside certain places of employment (such as schools), but union meetings are not work. Violations of the state order are a crime under Government Code section 8665. Anyone attending could be prosecuted.
For the health and safety of its membership during the coronavirus pandemic and to reflect the use of electronic meetings and electronic polling in CSEA chapters, the CSEA Board of Directors took action to allow chapters to ratify collective bargaining agreements without in-person meetings.
Q: When should our chapter seek agreements that settle the effects of school closure, distance learning, or changes in duties?
A: In coordination with the Labor Relations Representatives, chapters should be working to reach an agreement as soon as possible. CSEA will be clear with districts regarding rights to negotiate under the law.
Your Labor Relations Representative will schedule with your districts immediately to ensure the chapter reaches a fair agreement.
Q: What is the eligibility window for school reopening once a county has met the criteria of being in the Red Tier or with a case rate of less than 25 (for elementary school districts)?
Per CDPH guidance, schools in counties that have met the relevant criteria for school reopening per the K-12 Guidance have a three-week period to open, starting the day the county meets the criterion for reopening, even if the county stops meeting the criterion during that window (i.e., case rate is ≥25 in a subsequent calculation or the county assignment goes back to the Purple Tier during the window).
The window will be determined as follows: The first day a county is considered in the Red Tier is the Wednesday following the weekly county tier assignments are announced and posted on the Blueprint website (Tuesdays). Similarly, the first day that elementary schools in a county are eligible for the elementary reopening process is the Wednesday after a weekly case rate of less than 25 is posted.
For example, if a county is assigned to the Red Tier on Tuesday, March 9, the first full day the county is in the Red Tier is Wednesday, March 10. The window of eligibility for reopening would continue until the end of the day on March 30 regardless of any change to Purple tier assignment during that time. On March 31, schools in that county would not be able to open if the county had gone back to the Purple tier. If the county is in the Red Tier on March 31, then the schools remain eligible to reopen. The goal of the three-week window is to facilitate calm and safe school reopenings.
Q: Can my District reopen fully? (unrelated to funding eligibility resulting from AB 86):
A: Per CDPH January 14, 2021 K-12 Guidance, tier assignments will affect your district in the following ways:
Red, Orange, and Yellow Tiers. Consistent with the July 17 Framework, schools may reopen at all grades if they are located in counties in the Red, Orange or Yellow Tiers under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Operations once reopened must adhere to the updated Sector Guidance for School and School-Based Program reflected in this document (see below). Schools that reopen under this paragraph must complete and post a CSP to their website homepage before reopening for in-person instruction, as described in the CSP Posting and Submission Requirements for In-Person Instruction section.
Purple Tier. Schools may not reopen for grades 7-12 if the county is in Purple Tier. Subject to the limitation in the bullet immediately below, schools serving grades K-6 may reopen for in-person instruction in the Purple Tier, including during a State of California Regional Stay at Home Order, if they complete and post a CSP to their website homepage and submit the CSP to their local health officer (LHO) and the State Safe Schools for All Team and there are no identified deficiencies, as described in the Covid-19 Safety Plan (CSP) Posting and Submission Requirements for In-Person Instruction section below.
K-6 schools in counties in Purple Tier with CR>25: Schools serving students in grades K-6 may not reopen for in-person instruction in counties with adjusted CR above 25 cases per 100,000 population per day. They may post and submit a CSP, but they are not permitted to resume in-person instruction until the adjusted CR has been less than 25 per 100,000 population per day for at least 5 consecutive days. This case rate reflects recommendations from the Harvard Global Health Institute analysis of safe school reopening policy. Please find additional information on how the adjusted CR is calculated here. Recognizing that re-opening for in-person instruction takes time to routinize and improve safety, and that some schools may have already been conducting in-person learning successfully and had time to optimize all their policies and procedures to support minimal disease transmission on-site and detect new cases, schools who have already opened, as defined above, with minimal or no in-school transmission, may remain open and may consider increasing testing per CDPH supported testing framework.
For a school to be considered open, the school must have given all students in at least one grade the option to return for in-person instruction for at least part of the school week. This includes a school that has offered all students in at least one grade the option of receiving in-person instruction for only certain days during the week (commonly referred to as a "hybrid" model).
Schools that were operating only in the manner permitted under the Cohort Guidance are not "open" or "reopened." In addition, if only some students were being served in-person in a school in a county in the Red Tier or lower (e.g., only students with disabilities) and all students in at least one grade did not have the option to return in-person as described above, the school has not "opened" or "reopened."
Q: What are the criteria for closing a school?
A: Individual school closure, in which all students and staff are not on campus, is recommended based on the number of cases and stable groups impacted, which suggest that active in-school transmission is occurring. Closure should be done in consultation with the Local Health Officer. Situations that may indicate the need for school closure:
Within a 14-day period, an outbreak has occurred in 25% or more stable groups in the school.
Within a 14-day period, at least three outbreaks have occurred in the school AND more than 5% of the school population is infected.
The LHO may also determine school closure is warranted for other reasons, including results from public health investigation or other local epidemiological data.
Length of closure: 14 days, or according to a decision made in consultation with the LHO.
Q: What are the criteria for closing a school district?
A: Per CDPH January 14, 2021 K-12 Guidance: A school district should close if 25% or more of schools in a district have closed due to COVID-19 within a 14-day period and in consultation with the LHD.
Local Education Agencies (LEA) may typically reopen after 14 days, in consultation with the LHD.
Q: Do students have to wear masks?
A: Per CDPH January 14, 2021 K-12 Guidance: Students in all grade levels K-12 are required to wear face coverings at all times, while at school, unless exempted. A cloth face covering or face shield should be removed for meals, snacks, naptime, or when it needs to be replaced. When a cloth face covering is temporarily removed, it should be placed in a clean, safe area, clearly marked with the student’s name and date, until it needs to be put on again.
The face covering guidance recognizes that there are some people who cannot wear a face covering for a number of different reasons. People are exempted from the requirement if they are under age 2, have a medical or mental health condition or disability that would impede them from properly wearing or handling a face covering, those with a communication disability, or when it would inhibit communication with a person who is hearing impaired. Those with communication disabilities or caregivers of those with communication disabilities can consider wearing a clear mask or cloth mask with a clear panel when appropriate.
Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition, as confirmed by school district health team and therapists, must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.
Q: Some classifications are able to work from home and others are required to report to work. What can we do to seek equity?
A: We are in an unprecedented situation. The law requires certain functions still be performed. It’s important for chapters to try and negotiate over the impacts and effects for our members who are still assigned to come to work during this situation.
Q: What if a member is asked to perform work in sites known to have come into contact with students or staff who have been exposed to the virus, and the member does not want to carry out the assignment?
A: School employees may be disciplined for being insubordinate if they refuse to do assigned work. However, court decisions have affirmed the rights of workers to refuse assignments in situations where they reasonably believe imminent danger exists. Make sure to inform your supervisor that you are willing to perform other duties.
Be advised that if you decide to refuse an assignment, the appeal process is likely to take quite a while given the difficulty of every district and enforcement agency has in scheduling meetings at this time.
If you believe that you are at an increased risk due to personal health problems, you should first discuss the matter with your supervisor. This may constitute a reasonable concern.
Please contact your Labor Relations Representative if you have any questions or concerns.
Q: Can a district assign duties not normally prescribed to classified employees as "disaster service workers?"
A: Our collective bargaining agreements have not been suspended, and Districts must still bargain under the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA). If your district claims it can impose “disaster service work” without bargaining or refuses to bargain temporary changes to job descriptions, please reach out to your chapter leadership and Labor Relations Representative. At minimum, employers may need to address issues including “working out of class” and proper safety precautions.
In the meantime, classified employees who are directed to work outside of their usual job classification generally should not refuse to do the work assigned.
Q: If a district increases custodial workload to reduce the spread of the virus, what can a chapter do for those workers?
A: Each chapter should negotiate the impacts of assignment changes. Work with your Labor Relations Representative.
Q: My district is asking non-bargaining unit members to perform bargaining unit work, what should I do?
A: Contact your Labor Relations Representative or Chapter Leaders.
Q: Does my school district or community college have to reimburse me for home internet, mobile phone, or other expenses if I am doing my job remotely from home?
A: Many CSEA members may be working from home and performing tasks that require an internet connection and/or mobile phone service. Education Code section 44032 (for public K-12 schools) and section 87032 (for community colleges) require the employer to reimburse employees for “actual and necessary” expenses incurred in the course of their employment. Check to see if your district or college has a reimbursement policy that provides details, or if your chapter has bargained an agreement detailing reimbursement. Contact your Labor Relations Representative if you believe you are entitled to reimbursement but aren’t able to get it.
Stimulus and COVID Relief Funding
AB 86, signed into law by Governor Newsom on March 5, 2021, addressed school reopening in California and appropriated approximately $6.6 billion to schools in two pools ($2 billion and $4.6 billion) with different requirements and permissible uses.
AB 86 In-Person Instruction Program Funds ($2 billion)
Q: Do school districts need to apply to receive these funds?
A: No. These funds automatically go to districts to reopen according to benchmarks set in the bill. If a school district does not re-open schools between April 1 and May 15, the district will lose a portion of its funding for every school day schools remain closed. School districts that do not reopen on or after May 15 will forfeit all those funds.
Q: What if the district is closed for Spring Break on April 1st? Will they lose a portion of the In-Person Instruction Program Funds?
A: Not necessarily. The law is clear that the districts will only lose this funding for every school day the schools remain closed. If the district had a previously scheduled spring break (non-school days) that falls on April 1st, its grant funds will not be affected if it re-opens on the next scheduled school day.
Q: How can school districts use the In-Person Instruction Program Funds?
A: Funding may be used for a broad range of needs school districts have to re-open schools, including to support in-person instruction and school re-opening costs such as PPE and classroom upgrades.
Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants (Approx. $4.6 billion)
Q: How are the program funds allocated? How long do school districts have to expend their allocations?
A: These funds are allocated on the same basis as the LCFF, plus a $1,000 allocation per homeless student. This means districts will receive funding based on the number of students they have with additional funding for the number of low-income, English language learner, and foster students. Schools have until August 31, 2022 to spend these funds.
Q: How can districts use the Expanded Learning Opportunity funds?
A: The purpose of these funds is for districts to offer in-person supplemental instruction and support to students. Up to 15% of a district’s allocation may be used to support supplemental services for students who are in a distance-learning model because many communities may not be ready to return to in person instruction in the near future, but the students still require instructional services.
Funds may be used for summer school, extended year, extended instructional days or minutes, tutoring, etc. For districts that do not access the In-Person Instruction Grant funds ($2 billion pool), up to 10% may be used for any purpose consistent with school re-opening including providing in-person instruction for any student.
Q: How can districts use the allocation for paraprofessionals?
A: At least 10% of a district’s allocation must be spent on paraprofessionals to provide in person instruction, which includes one-on-one tutoring to students, with a priority for serving special needs and English language learner pupils.
Q: Is the $456 million specifically for Special Education hiring, or can a district use the funding for hiring other classifications of paraprofessionals?
A: Bill language prioritizes use of funds for English learners and pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs. It does not require this.
The law does not support the claim about limiting the new paraprofessionals funds to “exceptional needs students and English learners.” Rather, the bill says, “Supplemental instruction and support shall be prioritized for English learners and pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs,” but this language does not limit the expenditure to those two groups. Generally, all $4.6 billion, of which the $460 million is a part, is intended to support students who can use the help. The official language is quite broad: “pupils who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, English learners, foster youth, homeless pupils, pupils who are individuals with exceptional needs, pupils at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, disengaged pupils, and pupils who are below grade level, including, but not limited to, those who did not enroll in kindergarten in the 2020–21 school year, credit-deficient pupils, high school pupils at risk of not graduating, and other pupils identified by certificated staff.” (Ed Code 43522(a)(1).)
Q: Can a district use the funding for hiring other classifications related to supplemental instruction and support?
A: CSEA advocates that this funding be used to hire/increase the hours of classifications that assist classroom teachers and other certificated personnel in the performance of their duties and in the supervision of pupils. § 45330 (a).
Q: What role does the exclusive representative have in development of the district’s appropriation plan for the funds?
A: The bill requires the district, on or before June 1, 2021, to adopt a plan describing how the apportioned funds will be used in accordance with AB86, and they must provide an opportunity for parents and school site staff to be involved in the development of the plan.
Q: Are basic aide/community funded districts eligible for AB86 funds? If so, is there any difference in the amount of funding for those Districts?
A: Most of the funds provided by AB 86 are distributed according to the LCFF formula. (Ed Code section 43521(b)(3).) Since “community funded” districts are by definition districts that do not receive LCFF, these districts will not receive most AB 86 funding. However, AB 86 provides two apportionments outside of LCFF: $1,000 per homeless pupil, and state special schools receive $725 for each unit of ADA. (Ed Code section 43521(b)(1) and (2).) The first of these apportionments would appear to be available to community funded districts. This question may be answered officially when the state Department of Education publishes the estimated allocations, as it is required to do by law.
When/how will we find out how much money each district is getting?
On March 20, CDE must notify each District of its estimated apportionments (within 15 days of effective date of AB 86). Usually this information publicly available and posted online.
Q: Does the December 2020 federal stimulus bill contain any money to help districts?
A: Yes. While the Republicans refused to provide additional funding to states, this bill provides significant additional funds for any district which receives Title I money (the vast majority of districts). The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding for districts provided earlier in 2020 under the CARES Act has been roughly quadrupled by the stimulus bill. There are some limits on how these ESSER funds can be used, but the permissible uses are quite broad. For more info, see the Cal Dept. of Education website and contact your LRR.
Q: Does the stimulus bill impact classified employees in any other way?
A: The bill does NOT extend the paid leaves provided earlier in 2020 by the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), but merely extends some tax credits for private employers. The bill does augment unemployment benefits by $300/week for 11 weeks and extend unemployment benefits for independent contractors. The bill also provides a stimulus check of $600 per household member, with certain income limits. If like most people you pay the IRS through your bank account, this money is going straight into your account. If you haven’t seen it yet, then a good summary of how to collect these funds has been posted by the AARP at https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-2020/irs-timeline-to-send-stimulus-funds/.
Q: Does the March 2021 federal American Rescue Plan contain money to help public schools and CSEA members?
A: Yes. This federal law, signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, provides significant funding to education, state and local governments, and individual families and workers. The exact amounts per state are still being estimated. We currently estimate that for California, the law allocates $15.3 billion for K-12 schools, $2.3 billion for community colleges, and $3.8 billion in childcare assistance through block grants. There is also an allocation specifically to support special education, of which we estimate about $300 million will go to California. Another $26 billion will go to the state to support government operations related to the pandemic, and $16 billion will go to cities and counties for pandemic-related needs. In addition, there is a one-time relief payment of $1,400 per person to all individuals making $75,000 or less (or couples making $150,000 or less), and an increased child tax credit. The law also includes a boost in unemployment benefits payments of $300 per week through September 6, 2021.
General Employment Law Changes
Q: Are there any legal changes effective in January 2021 that I should know about?
A: Yes, there are some important changes in California state employment law that are not related to the pandemic. The state minimum wage went up from $13/hr to $14/hr for employers with more than 25 employees. Family leave rights have been extended in California to include time off to take care of sick grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and domestic partners. Also, the small employer exemption was reduced from 50 employees down to 5 employees (SB 1383). For more info, contact your LRR.
Q: Will there be any impact to CalPERS credit during the school closures?
A: Only if members are unpaid and if members work under 1,720 hours per fiscal year (10 months/ 8 hours per day). If reported as unpaid and under 1,720 you would lose service credit. That’s why CSEA is actively worked with districts to ensure our members remained in paid status during any school closure.
If you have any questions or concerns about your paid status, you should contact your Labor Relations Representative.
Q: Could the type of “leave” used, have any impact to CalPERS?
A: Only if the leave is an unpaid leave. If the leave is paid, the salary is reported as normal with no impact to service credit.
Q: My District is placing me on paid administrative leave. Will this have a negative impact on my CalPERS credit?
A: Paid administrative leave with the intent to return to work is reportable to CalPERS for service credit. If you have any concerns about how your leave is being reported, you should contact your Labor Relations Representative.
Information for Negotiating Teams
Q: We already negotiated an agreement. Why are we negotiating another?
A: Last year CSEA negotiated closure agreements with most employers. Now, returning to school, whether it is in-person or a distance learning model, will result in changed working conditions. New health authority requirements and safety issues require negotiation as well. Many of CSEA’s current “reopening” agreements are detailed enough to cover current in-person reopening efforts. However, with the many new developments related to the pandemic (vaccines, in-person reopening, new laws and safety regulations), CSEA is going back to the bargaining table with some employers to protect our members’ jobs, safety, and other rights.
Q: Will new agreements require ratification from the membership?
A: All negotiated agreements are subject to the Policy 610 requirements for field office review and membership ratification. The CSEA Board of Directors has waived parts of Policy 610 to allow chapters to ratify negotiated agreements via electronic meetings or online poll. Chapters should not ask members to gather together in person to do union business so long as health officials are discouraging such gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. All Regional Representatives have been authorized by the Association President to obtain Zoom accounts at CSEA expense to conduct ratification meetings on Zoom if the chapter desires. Contact your Labor Relations Representative for further guidance.
Q: With safety measures taken by CSEA and districts, are we expected to convene the entire bargaining team for negotiations?
A: No. We urge you not to hold any in-person meetings at this time. Negotiations using phone or video conferencing resources ARE required. CSEA and the District will have to work together to find a method that works best for all involved.
Q: When should we update our members?
A: CSEA encourages chapters to send regular updates to members to ensure they have the most up-to-date and accurate information.