Some California state workers push back, gain ground as return to office deadline looms

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Union representatives for California Department of Education employees met with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond before a planned protest.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the deadline for state employees to return to the office looms, workers and their unions are pushing back against the change from remote work.

California Department of Education (CDE) workers said Thursday they are gaining ground in their fight for change. Union representatives for CDE employees met with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond before a planned protest.

“We were able to open up some lines of communication, so we have the opportunity now to meet with the superintendent or his designee once a week to discuss not only return to office but also other issues,” said DLC 746 President Danielle Storey with SEIU Local 1000.

Storey told ABC10 they will also have a seat at the table as managers plan and implement the return to office. The union calls this a victory.

SEIU Local 1000 is California’s largest state employee union, representing nearly 100,000 workers.

Instead of the planned protest, they stood together across the street from the CDE building to celebrate this step in their fight. Many workers have been remote for the past four years since the pandemic hit.

“It was working, why fix it? So what we were asking is that they go by position and look at what can be done from home,” Storey said.

She says some workers living in other parts of the state were hired.

“When people were applying during the pandemic and now the endemic, there were job postings that said remote availability, ability to telework,” said Bobby Dalton Roy, a bargaining unit chair and CDE employee.

ABC10 reached out to the Department of Education about the return to office. In a statement to ABC10 they said, in part, “While we see the benefits of in-person work, we also understand employees’ concerns.” 

They added they want to “work together to find solutions whenever possible.”

As for the governor’s directive to have state employees return to the office two days per week, they said, “We are in the process of planning for a transition to make this functional and feasible for CDE.” Read the full statement below.

In the meantime, the department’s telework policy is still in place.

Union leaders said this is just the first step. They will continue to push for change on this topic during meetings with the state superintendent.

The full statement from the California Department of Education is available below.

“The California Department of Education has already begun active, open dialogue with SIEU Local 1000. While we see the benefits of in-person work, we also understand employees’ concerns. We want to hear from our staff and work together to find solutions whenever possible. In the meantime, we respect our employees’ desire to organize, advocate, and picket.

We understand the Governor’s directive for state employees to return to the office two days per week, and we are in the process of planning for a transition to make this functional and feasible for CDE, so that we can continue to serve the students, families, and educators of California. CDE’s telework policy continues to be in place.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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