WCCUSD Teamsters work together to advocate for fairness on the job

Weeks of negotiations with the District end in a new classification and wage increase for workers in school libraries

A group of members and Jeanette Bradfield, a Local 856 representative (far right) on one of the days they met with the District

At West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD), the Information and Literacy Assistants (ILA) work hard to ensure students have the materials they need to be successful.

“We work in the textbook room and the library,” said Judy Langarica from El Cerrito High School. “We order all the textbooks, process them, and check them out to the students. We also help the librarian check books in and out, process new books, and now we help with tablets.”

Judy Langarica has worked at El Cerrito High for 33 years

Last year, WCCUSD implemented the “One-to-One Initiative” where each student was assigned a tablet by the ILA in their school library. The new job responsibilities included managing, organizing, cataloging, distributing, and troubleshooting issues with the devices. Although the workers were unilaterally given new job responsibilities, they were not compensated for the additional work.

“It was a huge add on job,” said Judy. “El Cerrito has 1,500 kids, and I had to hand enter each tablet and then manually enter the parent permission slip for each student to use them. It took lots of hours while doing our regular job.”

“All along I was thinking it wasn’t right,” said Kathy Williams from Hercules High School. “We were adding the job of a technician into the full-time job we already had,”

Kathy Williams is a Instructional Media Technician at Hercules High School

In September, ILAs from several schools in the District met with their Teamsters 856 representative, Jeanette Bradfield. “When we met together, it opened our eyes that maybe this was something we could work on as a union,” said Kathy. “It helped us feel like we were going to have back up.”

Local 856 demanded that the District negotiate over the change in the members’ job description through the meet and confer process.

“We went to meetings with the District every Monday for several weeks,” said Dena Kirkland from Pinole Middle School. “In those weeks we outlined everything we do in detail and went through it point by point with HR. At the last meeting we came up with a new wage comparable to others in the District doing similar work.”

Last month, negotiations concluded and the ILAs new job description was accepted, voted on and approved by the Board of Education.

Dena Kirkland has worked for WCCUSD for 17 years

“Their job title was changed from Information and Literacy Assistant to Instructional Media Technician (IMT),” said Jeanette Bradfield, a Local 856 representative.

In addition to an update of their job description, the former ILAs also received a wage increase that brought them more in line with other technician positions within the District.

“It’s life changing,” said Dena. “In all the years I’ve worked for WCCUSD, I’ve had to live with my parents because I had young children and couldn’t afford rent in this area. Now, I can finally afford to live on my own and I will on July 1st.”

Kathy says she and her peers felt empowered by their ability to work together to improve their own wages and working conditions. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I belong the way I do now that we’re Teamsters,” said Kathy. “I felt support and back up and that our union would sit at the table with us.”