At left: ESTA President Marisa Hanson is flanked by students, parents and community members holding signs supporting their teachers. Photo by Timothy Ballejo.
January 2015 – Months of effective mobilizing led to a strong contract settlement for members of the East Side Teachers Association, who voted overwhelmingly Jan. 13 to ratify their new one-year agreement. The pact includes a 5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2014, with the likelihood of another 1.5 percent, depending on state funding levels for their East Side Union High School District.
Nearly 90 percent of educators voted in favor of the pact. Other improvements won concerned some class size relief, and new flexibility in work hours for instructional coaches who mentor teachers. The ESTA union goes back to the bargaining table in February to hammer out a new contract for the coming school year and beyond.
A strong show of community solidarity paid off. A huge protest by teachers, parents and students at the Nov. 20 school board meeting resulted in breakthroughs in contract talks.
“Teachers deserved a fair raise after many years of sacrificing increases to help the district,” says Marisa Hanson, president of the 1,150-member ESTA. Teachers got only a 1.95 percent raise last year — their first raise in five years – and had taken several unpaid furlough days.
Pressured by the November rally, school board President J. Manuel Herrera promised that soaring class sizes will be fixed. The district agreed to pay teachers penalty pay because the district went over contractual class size limits at the end of the semester, and agreed to a plan to prevent classes from exceeding contract limits next school year.
By the 18th day of school last fall, more than 9,000 student schedule changes had to be made. At the beginning of this school year, more than 750 classes were overloaded beyond ESTA contractual limits.
Students stood by their teachers during months of tough negotiations. “Students are tired of large classes and getting their schedules changed,” says Hanson. “They support teachers.”