Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) introduced AB 438 on Tuesday, Feb. 9, which would extend existing employee rights and protections to school custodians, bus drivers and other classified employees. AB 438 would ensure classified employees receive the same layoff notice and hearing rights as teachers and certified administrators.
“Classified employees play an essential role on school campuses and in students’ lives. They are the backbone of the education environment as they transport students to and from school, prepare meals, clean classrooms and so much more. It is only fair that we make sure they are extended the same employee protections from layoffs as other school employees,” Reyes said. “I am proud to author legislation which expands worker rights to employees who have such critical roles for the functioning of our schools.”
"Classified staff have shown we are essential to the success of California schools by ensuring students have nutritious meals, safe learning environments, and extra academic help, even in the face of this pandemic, which is why they deserve the same job protections as teachers and school administrators. In the absence of these protections, over 2,000 classified staff have been laid off since last March, even though our schools have not suffered a loss in state funding. I want to thank Majority Leader Reyes for introducing AB 438, which will provide parity in layoff protections for all school employees," said Ben Valdepeña, association president, California School Employees Association.
“California’s educators honor the services of classified school employees who partner with us on a daily basis to provide our six million students with a quality public education. A student’s school day begins with the first school bus ride in the morning, and ends when the custodian turns off the lights at night. One of the many hard lessons of this pandemic has been acknowledging the divide that exists in our communities and also in our workplaces. That is why we are cosponsoring AB 438. We believe that in the unfortunate event layoff notices are issued, classified employees should count on professional rights that provide more stability as they strive to provide for their own families. We look forward to working with Assemblymember Gómez Reyes to ensure notices mirror the timelines of certificated employees,” said E. Toby Boyd, kindergarten teacher and CTA president.
"From feeding students, to cleaning classrooms, to ensuring student safety, classified professionals provide critical services every day in our schools that our students need to succeed. For too long, they have not had equal rights under the law when it comes to layoffs. AB 438 corrects this inequity, by making sure that these hard-working professionals have the same rights as teachers, administrators, and other school staff," said Luukia Smith, secretary treasurer of the CFT - A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals.
“AFSCME whole-heartedly supports this bill and is a proud co-sponsor. This bill takes a much-needed step to bring the same rights to classified employees as their certificated and academic co-workers. Classified employees are vital for creating and supporting an environment where our kids can learn and grow in a safe space; these employees deserve the same rights as those provided to certificated and academic employees,” said Kim Carter Martinez, AFSCME Council 57 political and legislative director
“School workers together create a safe, supportive community in which students can flourish, but those of us who are classified staff - those who clean, provide transportation and food, provide classroom support for students who need additional help, and do other critical work — are too often treated as expendable,” said Max Arias, president of SEIU Local 99.
AB 438 ensures classified employees are granted protections from layoffs, which is important now more than ever. AB 438 would ensure worker protections for the most underpaid and diverse group of workers on school campus. The wellbeing of our schools depends on the wellbeing of all school employees.
Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes is the majority leader of the state legislature, representing District 47 which includes the cities of Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, San Bernardino and the unincorporated areas.