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[whitespace] Tom Dundan United We Stand: Temporary city worker Tom Dundan thinks union contracts are the way to go.


Temporary Unions

Many of the lifeguards, library clerks and Civic Auditorium staff in Santa Cruz are temporary workers; many have labored for the city for years--and an increasing number string together part-time job after part-time job without benefits or a contract. As Daniel Dodge, a temporary worker at the Civic and father of four, says, "There is nothing temporary about working two or three jobs in Santa Cruz. It's called survival."

Dodge and other city temps hope that life will be a little easier now that Santa Cruz City Council has recognized SEIU Local 415 as the union for the estimated 550 temporary workers the city employs annually. Tom Dundan, a temp for the city Planning Department, believes that "union contracts are the way to go."

At the top of the temps' wish list are a living wage (which so far only benefits full-time city workers and workers who contract for the city) and medical benefits.

A recent County Health Services report estimates that more than 40,000 Santa Cruz residents are without health insurance--a situation that Dodge directly links to increased temporary employment.

SEIU Organizing Director David Werlin says the union has already begun talking to workers about what they want in the contract. "We're confident the city will bargain with the union in good faith, but whether they'll give what workers consider a fair and just contract remains to be seen," says Werlin.

Meanwhile City Councilmembers turned their attention a little further afield last week, voting in support of the Santa Cruz delegation Tierra y Libertad, a 10-member group accompanying the Zapatista Army of National Liberation between March 2 and 12 on the last leg of their unarmed march from Chiapas to Mexico City. Says Santa Cruz delegation member

John Malkin, "The aim of the march is to convince the Mexican Congress to approve the San Andres Accords ... an amendment of the Mexican Constitution that recognizes indigenous political autonomy and indigenous land rights in Mexico."

Mark Primack, the only councilmember to vote against the resolution, said he supported the resolution privately and vowed to buy a $25 Tierra y Liberdad T-shirt but added, "I don't want to take up valuable council time dealing with issues far away." Councilmember Keith Sugar responded, "As an elected body, we don't just represent people, we are the voice of the people. What happens when leaders are silent? Silence is dangerous."

Excellent point, Keith--and one worth remembering next time the dreaded words "sleeping ban" get mentioned any time soon.

She Rocks

This Friday, teenage girls will have the opportunity to get out of the classroom--always a popular idea--and into the community to learn one of the most useful skills a young goddess can possess: violence prevention. How? By attending the ninth annual Creating Cycles of Respect/ Creando Ciclos de Respeto: Teen Women's Day, an event which last year drew more than 350 girls. Says Ursula Montesinos, a senior at Santa Cruz High, "[The event] was started by teacher Frieda Krieger about 10 years ago. She was disturbed by boys' behavior toward girls. Girls didn't have the resources to deal with issues like sexual harassment."

Keynote speaker is Blanca Tavera, founder of Defensa de Mujeres, and teens can attend Rape Prevention, Healthy Relationships and Self-Defense workshops.

Sponsored by the City of Santa Cruz Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and the City School District, the event is coordinated by She Rocks!, an after-school program in which teenage women learn self-defense and rock climbing and attend workshops.

So why, Nüz wonders, are high school and middle school girls organizing such a large event? Lety Magana, a She Rocks! participant, explains: "Because you need youth to lead the youth. We have more perspective on the issues around us." Friday's event at the Civic Auditorium is open to all area junior high and high school girls. Registration at 8:00am; activities until 3:15pm. Call 420.6298.

All That Jazz

What is going on at Aptos High School? With allegations of sexual harassment swirling around the campus, Nüz dispatched one of its reporters to the beleaguered school to talk to the teachers themselves. But not about sex. No, Nüz' interest had been piqued by the Aptos Teachers Organization, a group of 46 AHS teachers that, sources say, is up in arms against the school's principal, Liz Modena. The organization had formed to deal with four major issues: "A lack of professional accountability, the inconsistent application of existing school policies, a decline in student discipline, and the need to establish a positive work environment." To complicate matters, members of the group believe these problems stem from "a perceived co-principalship" between Modena and assistant principal Kelly Andrews. (Last week, Andrews accused former principal David Hare of sexual harassment and the Pajaro Valley Unified School District of ignoring her allegations that Hare had told her he had sexual relationships with students at schools where he had worked previously.)

Sources have told Nüz that when the ATO gave Modena a written explanation of their concerns, the principal and Andrews responded with scare tactics. And when a Nüz reporter showed up at a ATO meeting, she got the door slammed in her face and was told "to go write about the jazz concert." And Modena has not returned Nüz' calls, all of which is enough to put calluses on Nüz' soul.

John Casey, PVUSD Superintendent, says he is aware of the feelings of some staff members. "We encourage people to voice their concerns. The ATO is not a union but just a group of teachers. There are no legal implications. There should be no fear of reprisals on the part of the teachers," says Casey, adding that it would not be complicated for the district to respond to complaints about Modena, even though Modena's best friend, Andrew, has just sued the district. "We have no difficulty separating the complaints," he said.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Christine Amato-Quinn, who is directly responsible for Aptos High, says she has seen the ATO's agenda. "They should be commended on the way they've handled the situation," says Amato-Quinn, adding that she has "no recollection of any threats being made. I just think Modena would prefer it if people resolved their problems directly, rather than together."

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From the March 7-14, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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