Much Ado About 'Bumping'? Only One School Affected So Far by Controversial Union Rules, District Officials Say

Despite — or perhaps because of — loud lamentations about bizarre union work rules that promised to displace secretaries at San Francisco schools, only one school site has so far been affected by the regulations, school-district officials say.

Earlier this month we told the story of Sandra Rios, the beloved secretary at Longfellow Elementary School in the Outer Mission. Rios, like her counterparts at other San Francisco schools, believed she was on the verge of becoming an indirect casualty of massive layoffs in the ranks of the city's public employees. Those layoffs were aimed at clerical workers in the Department of Public Health. But because of Service Employees International Union seniority rules, the health department secretaries would be allowed to “bump” school secretaries — who share the same job classification — from their positions.

This has caused considerable ire at San Francisco Unified School District, where officials claim that health workers don't necessarily have the skills or desire to work with children in a school setting. In particular, the prospect of losing bilingual secretaries in schools with large numbers of families who don't speak English well is problematic. (Rios, a Spanish speaker, is one such secretary.) However, SFUSD spokeswoman Gentle Blythe told us this week that only one school thus far — Thurgood Marshall High School in the Bayview — has had a worker bumped.

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