Orange County Schools Educators Association (OCSEA) is making their case for competitive wages and health benefits by holding their first-ever rally for county educators in front of the Orange County Department of Education. The association is arguing for a student-centered negotiations approach and wants changes that will ensure service of the next generation of teachers for the county’s special schools and programs in a highly-competitive educator labor market.
To do so, OCSEA plans to confront OCDE administrators who have spent years stockpiling funding that was meant for programs, students, and classrooms.
OCSEA President Marlene Simmons and their newly-constituted organizing team planned the rally as a first step in communicating that desire for a fair settlement. “Honoring the hard work of educators by ensuring they have a comparable contract will also help draw the next generation of educators to serve in our schools” she explained.
Current figures show OCDE now maintains a reserve of over 70 percent, an outrageous amount given the state’s required 3 percent reserve for economic uncertainties. For OCSEA leaders, their concern is more about their teachers than finance. Simmons explained how personal it is for their members; “I’ve taken teachers’ calls based on the last offer by OCDE and they cannot understand why their out-of-pocket healthcare costs might quadruple while OCDE pretends they are a savings bank.”
Scores of members answered the Monday call to stand up for one another and participate in the rally. OCSEA’s volunteers lined the parking lot and marched in front of OCDE offices, singing songs and reminding department officials that their latest offer to place higher healthcare costs onto OCSEA members will not stand.
Organizers were pleased with the number of members who participated and are planning further activities in advance of their goal to bring more resources and opportunities to county schools, educators, and most importantly, their students.