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Are You Stressed at Work?


Dealing with Job Stress

After several years of layoffs and now furlough days and possibly even pay cuts, classified employees are stretched to the breaking point. Classified employees care about the children that we educate and as a result of their dedication, often come to work early, leave late, or skip lunches and breaks just to get the job done.  Has your increased workload ever caused you stress? Have you ever felt overwhelmed at work? Your job does not have to be so stressful! Keep reading for a few strategies on how you can deal with job stress. First, though, a few words on how job stress can impact your health and your wallet.


Physical Consequences of Job Stress

Job stress can cause you to become physically ill. Worse yet, it can lead to fatal illness. In the short-term, you may begin to feel symptoms of chronic fatigue (a constant feeling of being tired, exhausted, or worn-down), high levels of anger, self-criticism, cynicism, negativity, irritability, and a sense of being overwhelmed or besieged and you may find yourself exploding easily as a result of small problems. Other short-term problems that are commonly associated with job stress include frequent headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, weight loss or gain, sleeplessness, and shortness of breath. Job stress can harm our immune systems and leads to increased illnesses, including more long-term problems such as heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, neck and/or back pain, fertility issues, skin problems, and increased risk of asthma and arthritis.  Your health is important, and you have a right to a healthy workplace. Putting in all of the extra time is also devaluing your economic value to the district.


How Much Does it Cost?

If your boss walked up to you one day and asked you to write a check out to the school district, would you do it? Of course not! But if you don’t work to rule, then you are effectively writing a check to the district. Take a look at the numbers. A classified employee who works full-time, 10 months per year and earns $15 per hour and you work through one fifteen-minute break, you are giving the district $3.75 for free (because a quarter of an hour is worth $3.75). If you do that every day, you will give the district $750 in free labor. If the union and the district agreed to extend your schedule by fifteen minutes per day, you would certainly demand to be paid for the extra time that you work, so why give away free labor by skipping a break? Not only does doing all of the extra work decrease your economic value, but it decreases the likelihood that your district will ever rehire employees who have been lost through layoff.

Classified employees do this work because we care about the children that we educate, so many skip breaks and lunch, start early, or stay late without compensation because they want to finish the job and ensure that the children have the best education that they possibly can. After years of layoffs, though, classified employees are stretched to the breaking point. If there used to be three classified employees to do the job and one was laid off and the work still gets done as a result of the extraordinary efforts of a classified employee who skips breaks, skips lunch, or stays late without compensation, what stops the district from laying off one more classified employee? In better times, why would they bring employees off the layoff list when the work gets done with reduced staffing levels? Job stress, brought on by workload, is an obvious problem. But what is the best way to address it?


Fixing the Problem

Whenever you have a problem, check your contract first. It may contain language that pertains to workload and if it does, you can file a grievance. Another way to control your workload is to create a plan with your supervisor. Explain how staffing reductions have increased your workload and show how long your tasks take to complete. Explain that as hard as you work, the work is impossible to complete in your assigned hours. Ask your supervisor to help you prioritize the work so that he or she understands the stress that the workload creates and you can go to work every day without feeling completely overwhelmed.

If your supervisor is unwilling to work collaboratively and help to solve the problem of increased work load, you must assert your rights and work to the rule. Take your breaks. Eat a duty-free lunch. Get to work on time and leave at the end of your assigned shift. Doing this by yourself will improve your health and reduce your stress levels, but organizing a concerted campaign that involves chapter leaders, CSEA staff, and co-workers will have the largest impact and improve working conditions for classified employees across your district. Your Labor Relations Representative can help your chapter leadership design and implement a work to rule campaign. CSEA trainings such as the Organizing Institute and the Membership Unity Program teach time-tested techniques and ideas that classified activists can use to improve working conditions and gain respect on the job. The law protects you.


Legal Protections

EERA
Under the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA), which governs the relationship between California’s public-sector employers and the unions that represent their employees, classified employees have a right to participate in concerted (union) activity without discrimination or retaliation by the district and its managers. If you feel that your district or its managers are retaliating against you or your co-workers for working to rule, contact your Labor Relations Representative. Furthermore, the Public Employment Relations Board has determined that workload is a mandatory subject of bargaining. Contact your chapter leadership and ask them to demand to bargain any changes in your workload that occur.

FLSA
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prohibits employees from volunteering their time in the same capacity for which they are getting paid. It also mandates that employees must be paid for any work that is “suffered and permitted”. Your work is suffered and permitted if your district knew or should have known that you were working above and beyond your assigned time.

You deserve a workplace that is free from stress. You deserve a reasonable workload. You have rights that guarantee breaks and pay for the work that you do. CSEA is here to help, but you need to decide to make the change. Contact your Labor Relations Representative or chapter leadership and attend a Know Your Rights training to learn more about your rights to a stress-free and healthy workplace and how you can take action to create a better workplace for you and your co-workers. 



Contact Information

ORANGE Field Office
326 W KATELLA AVE #E, ORANGE 92867
Main#: (714) 532-3766
Toll-free: (800) 564-9979
Fax:(714) 771-8412
Use Extensions below with Main or Toll-free #


FIELD DIRECTOR
TIARA COX
Ext: 7120
Direct: (714) 532-7120
tcox@csea.com

SR LABOR REL REP
DANIEL TORRES
Ext: 7137
Direct: (714) 532-7137
dtorres@csea.com

ADMINISTRATIVE SPECIALIST
YVONNE OLMOS
Ext: 7122
Direct: (714) 532-7122
yvonneolmos81@gmail.com

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
KIMBERLY SLANE
Ext: 7132
Direct: (714) 532-7132
kslane@csea.com


Labor Representatives

ROBERT DEWITZ
Ext: 7128
Direct: (714) 532-7128    
rdewitz@csea.com

ISABELLE FRANZ
Ext: 7138
Direct: (714) 532-7138    
ifranz@csea.com

JASON GEANAKOPOULOS
Ext: 7121
Direct: (714) 532-7121    
jgeanakopoulos@csea.com

AMY GONZALES
Ext: 7133
Direct: (714) 532-7133    
agonzales@csea.com

MICHAEL LEON
Ext: 7124
Direct: (714) 532-7124    
mleon@csea.com

CECILIA LOPEZ
Ext: 7134
Direct: (714) 532-7134    
clopez@csea.com

TIFFANY LOPEZ
Ext: 7135
Direct: (714) 532-7135    
tlopez@csea.com

KARLI NEVAREZ
Ext: 7125
Direct: (714) 532-7125    
knevarez@csea.com

MATTHEW PHUTISATAYAKUL
Ext: 7129
Direct: (714) 532-7129    
mphutisatayakul@csea.com

ANTHONY SOLIS
Ext: 7126
Direct: (714) 532-7126    
asolis@csea.com

ERICA WILLIAMS
Ext: 7123
Direct: (714) 532-7123    
ewilliams@csea.com