The A,B,Cs of a Vacation Accrual Victory

In a vindication for dozens of AFSCME-represented classified staff at Birmingham Community Charter High School (BCCHS) in the San Fernando Valley,  school officials agreed after nearly a year-long dispute to sign a “side letter” over vacation accrual benefits.

The side letter marks the end of a long grievance process that AFSCME was forced to initiate when BCCHS refused to follow the vacation accrual terms of its Collective Bargaining Agreement with the employees. Under that contract, vacation accrual is calculated at the same formula for A,B, and C basis employees. Yet only the “A” basis employees – those working 12 months per year – were accruing the required vacation time. That left the rest who work eleven ("B" employees) or ten ("C" employees) shortchanged.

Prior to the CBA, both “B” and “C” basis staff received vacation accruals on a pro-rated basis. This was eliminated in the CBA, effective July 1, 2017, however. The school nonetheless refused to provide the “B” and “C” employees what was rightfully theirs.  

The union, with assistance from AFSCME District Council 36 staff, filed a group grievance that eventually led to third party mediation. Even then, school officials were not swayed by the mediator’s recommendation to honor the CBA contract. That changed a few weeks ago, when BCCHS in the eleventh hour agreed to partner up with the union to settled the issue - just before it was to go before an arbitator. 

The resulting settlement means that everyone in the bargaining unit will now be assured fair and equitable treatment with consistent accrual rights.  In addition, every eligible “B” or “C” basis union member employed since July 1, 2017 will be receiving a reimbursement payment by August 2nd, equal to the difference they would have accrued since the Collective Bargaining Agreement went into effect on July 1, 2017, according to Business Representative Gary Guthman.

The Union further agreed that “B” and “C” basis employees may take up to five (5) days of vacation during the school-year period in which the employees would normally be scheduled to work.

Roberto Izarraras, who was the union’s President until recently but remained on task to see the grievance through to the end, described this victory as an example of how important the union is in bringing fairness and justice to employees, and added. “The important thing here is that now everyone accrues the same.”