Some school secretaries spared from job cuts, for now


Alice Lin is a school secretary. Last week, she received a letter from the San Francisco School District saying she would not be laid off and "sorry for the stress it created."

"She is currently able to stay in her position, but we have no reassurance at this time from Human Resources that she may not be subject to bumping tomorrow, next week," said Gentle Blythe from the San Francisco Unified School District.

Lin, like many school secretaries in San Francisco, is at the bottom of her union's seniority list. Above her are health care workers who have been around for 15 to 20 years. But because of the budget cuts, these workers were, or are, scheduled to be laid off. Under the union rule, because they have more seniority, the health care workers can bump the secretaries and assume their jobs.

However, at the 11th hour, the district was able to save the jobs of 16 secretaries, some based on their ability to speak a second language.

"Because they speak either Spanish or Cantonese and can stay in that community, because someone who would be bumping into their position did not have that special language requirement," said Blythe.

Today, most of the 500 plus health care and other city employees laid off have bumped others union workers.

Ethea Farahkhan didn't have enough seniority to bump anyone.

"I've known that it's been coming for the last month, but when the day actually got here, it was like a reality check," she said.

And with another round of cuts expected in the near future, other city workers including the secretaries are still vulnerable.

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