Meet a Member
Ty Kovacs is a teacher at the California School for the Deaf and a devoted Local 1000 member

Article published on April 7, 2023

SEIU Local 1000 member Ty Kovacs is committed to his community. He attended the California School for the Deaf (CSD) as a child and came to work as a night counselor before going on to get his teaching credential. “I want to be a strong advocate for all represented units at CSD,” he said, “and that’s why I want to make sure that the State knows what they are doing to us.”

Ty’s workplace, the California School for the Deaf, is located in Fremont, an area where the rising cost of living and increased rate of inflation has continued to put pressure on residents. Ty and his coworkers are no strangers to the problem of State mismanagement, neglect, and trivialization of services that Californians depend on. “Often times, staff live far away from Fremont,” he said, “pushed out by rising inflation, food costs, and gentrification. The State is aware of these issues. They spend millions of dollars on programs to solve them, while their own workers experience them every day.” CSD experiences chronic understaffing due to retention issues, and a widening gap in pay with the private sector continues to reduce their applicant pool and further heighten stress levels on the workers who remain.

However, CSD faces other unique issues. Without adequate funding and attention, educators and support staff cannot provide essential services to students, which has led to issues beyond the workplace. “Systemic audism (discrimination against deaf people) in deaf education means that our community faces a form of cultural genocide, with impacts beyond our school,” says Ty. “More and more families and relatives of CSD employees feel the pressure of these policies, which in turn further marginalizes and limits their ability to use resources at the school.”

While the State fails to act, members working at the California School for the Deaf are faced with increasingly untenable situations. Some are living in cars due to the cost of living, while others are working second jobs as they struggle to cover for understaffed departments. “Two of our teachers have dealt with these issues for eight months,” says Ty. “It’s unacceptable that we are unable to support ourselves while we work. The State needs to provide us with the resources we need to keep working and to keep our community alive.”