District Council 57

October Days of Action - IN ACTION!!

Locals that reported back with photos and stories!

LOCAL 258

The afternoon went great—I am so proud of these women. They are fierce!

We got to Senator Cox’s office at about 1:55 for our 2 pm meeting.  We were a delegation of 4 plus the Local's Business Agent: 3 women from elementary libraries and one from payroll. The library techs are working with the librarians (the plan is to eliminate library services completely) so they’d all chipped in for t-shirts saying “save our school libraries” and our folks were wearing them. Our folks were all constituents in Senator Cox's district.

Senator Cox was there but in a meeting  so we met with his Education Staffer.  It turns out he lives in Elk Grove and has a daughter in one of the elementary schools. He didn’t even invite us to sit down, so we all stood there, inside his little office while we talked to him. The library folks had just come off a great presentation to the school board the night before so they were feeling pretty good. Once they honed in on the fact that he’s an Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD) parent they kept all their comments firmly rooted in his daughter’s experience and expectations as a 6th grader in one of their schools.

We covered the areas related to the impact of the state budget on the EGUSD – class size reduction, the elementary libraries (no librarians in those schools, only us), the rip-off of the tax payers that is the outrageous pricing of textbooks and teacher resource kits (ranging in price of around $500 for a 5 workbook set in 2nd grade math to more than $1300 for 3 CDs in 6th grade science), and why the broad-brush approach the legislature uses when they do their grand budgeting has serious impact back home. We asked him to convey to Senator Cox that despite the general lack of acceptable education funding, what they do has perhaps unintended consequences back in their districts, and that he might use the info they’d given him to look into things in a bit more detail. They gave him the price list for books and teacher kits, and it actually got his staffer's attention. He admitted it was outrageous, then talked about having been caught between lobbyists for the textbook publishers and the computer-based manufacturers.

We made sure to let him know that the EGUSD superintendent had decided to eliminate all library services first rather than last. They talked about the connection between libraries and learning, the lunacy of getting rid of services and people before administrators and stuff.

The best part was what happened a little later. We decided to go into the basement cafeteria for a cold drink and some debriefing. On the way we saw a crowd of cameras and reporter types around the Governor’s office door, so we went over for a peek. Turns out they were standing around waiting for the water negotiations to conclude for the day, and our folks wanted to see what might happen. One by one they came out and made their statements about productive discussions and; more to come. Then out comes Darrell Steinberg. I whispered to them that we weren’t having much luck getting a meeting with him. Our folks walked right over to the reporters and cameras crowded around Steinberg, nudged one or two aside, made sure Steinberg could see them, and raised up a flashy poster board one of their students had made describing the benefits of school libraries…he didn’t want to acknowledge them but couldn’t help it and finally had to say on-camera that they were hoping to conclude their water negotiations and save our libraries too.

Our folks were really great and they learned things and had fun to boot. We talked all the way back about today’s experience, the expectations they have of their impact on Senator Cox and anybody else up there, what they’ve learned and intend to take back to their colleagues, students and fellow Union members. They can’t wait for the next trip up and they plan to include more folks every time; they even talked about making a trip to the capitol to stop in on various legislators a regular thing. I think we planted a few new seeds today; now if we can fertilize them we may really accomplish something inside Local 258.

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