Ramona teachers vote on tentative agreement.
Across the state, CTA members are fighting for improved teaching conditions and professional compensation. Find out more at www.cta.org/bargainingupdates.
Ramona educators approve difficult agreement
It’s not pretty, but it prevents a financial disaster for Ramona teachers in San Diego County. Leveraging pressure from a motion with the Public Employment Relations Board for an injunction to halt an illegal imposition and resulting deductions from teachers’ wages (including takebacks of wages already paid) by the Ramona Unified School District, the Ramona Teachers Association parlayed a tentative agreement with RUSD.
The labor pact came with the assistance of PERB’s regional attorney and general counsel in a late-night bargaining session on May 29.
The two-year agreement — ratified by RTA members June 5 and by the RUSD school board June 6 — calls for six furlough days and a few minor additional concessions resulting in a 4.06 percent cut for 2012-13 and five and one-half furlough days, plus splitting the cost of benefits at 85/15 percent in 2013-14. The total cut that year is 6.39 percent. The agreement includes restoration language for three furlough days based on the district's revenues. Benefits will be split at 90/10 beginning with the 2014-15 school year, but otherwise, all other provisions of the contract will be restored to pre-imposition levels.
“It’s not a pretty settlement, but it is much better than an imposition, and especially one that would have extracted almost 27 percent from our members over three years,” says RTA President Donna Braye-Romero. “RTA members have wisely chosen the high road to prevent the trauma of a strike on our students and the community. But despite the settlement, we remain angry and disappointed over the district’s intractability, numerous unfair labor practices and even downright deceptions. Our organizing efforts are ongoing as we look toward returning to the table next year for 2014-15 and the school board election cycle in 2014.”
San Lorenzo teachers win tentative agreement
After educators mobilized their community for months, the flush San Lorenzo Unified School District finally agreed to spend some of its reserves on a fair contract settlement with teachers. The tentative agreement was reached May 31, and educators will be voting on it until June 21.
“The settlement is a good first step in getting this district to spend down some of its reserves,” says Donna Pinkney, president of the 500-member San Lorenzo Education Association (SLEA). “It restores some of the deep cuts that were made in recent years.”
If ratified, the settlement would provide a 3.5 percent ongoing raise for the 2013-14 school year and a one-time bonus of 2 percent by mid-August. Also won at the bargaining table were a slight reduction in K-3 class sizes and restoring the equivalent of 2.5 of the three counselor positions cut during the recession. Some middle school counselors had caseloads of 900 students. The district still has only one credentialed librarian for its 10,000 students, but media aides will help keep libraries open.
Meanwhile, obstructive Superintendent Dennis Byas announced he is retiring. Byas and the district’s fat reserves — amounting to 16 percent of its budget, when the state only requires 3 percent — were lambasted at a huge May 17 SLEA community protest rally. “There is no justification for not spending the community’s tax dollars on direct services to students to improve the quality of the schools in San Lorenzo,” Pinkney said to the crowd at the rally in front of San Lorenzo High School. “Please help us send a message to the San Lorenzo school board.”
San Lorenzo starting salaries had ranked 11th out of 17 school districts in Alameda County.
Read media coverage of the May 17 SLEA rally here.
Palmdale district declares impasse
Members of the Palmdale Elementary Teachers Association (PETA) in Los Angeles County held a massive rally May 21 prior to a school board meeting in an effort to get the school district to go back to the bargaining table after the district unilaterally declared impasse.
At issue in the contract dispute is the district’s insistence on an 8 percent salary cut for two years, a hard cap on health benefits, and nine furlough days that PETA has determined to be unnecessary. The 900-member PETA and the school district presented their fact-finding cases May 24. The neutral fact-finder, appointed by the state, attempted to get both parties to reach a mediated settlement the day of the hearing and has scheduled an additional hearing for June 27.
“We have helped this district through its financial challenges going all the way back to 2005,”says PETA President Hugo Estrada. “We saved the district $2.3 million in health benefit costs by taking lower health benefit plans in September 2012. We have not had a pay raise since 2007. Enough is enough.”
Fremont teachers win first raises since 2007
After months of mobilizing their Bay Area community over class sizes and their district’s refusal to invest its large reserves in educators and students, Fremont Unified School District teachers ratified a three-year contract in late May that includes their first negotiated raises since 2007. However, the 32,000-student district refused to deal with soaring class sizes at the bargaining table.
“This agreement is a step in the right direction, a step to regain ground we lost since 2007,” says Brannin Dorsey, president of the 1,650-member Fremont Unified District Teachers Association. “But many of our members are disappointed the district was not interested in bargaining a reduction in class sizes. Their unwillingness to do this has jeopardized an entire generation of students.”
Educators will get a one-time 4 percent payment this school year, and 1.5 percent on the salary schedule for 2013-14, with a potential for another 0.5 percent. Dorsey says this contract could have been nailed down in November; instead, the district dragged out state-mediated negotiations and spent more than $100,000 for an outside attorney and compensation for the district bargaining team.
Teachers were seeking a maximum of 24 students in K-3 classrooms, and 27 in grades 7-12.
Read media coverage of the settlement here.
Alisal teachers declare ‘no confidence’ in superintendent
Frustrated Alisal Teachers Association (ATA) members in Salinas overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in Superintendent John Ramirez in late May, as did education support professionals represented by the California School Employees Association.
The teachers’ contract expired in June 2011.
The organizing work by ATA members and parent supporters resulted in the Alisal Union School District coming back to the table on June 4 with a revised proposal. The district removed its proposal to eliminate retiree health benefits, and presented a salary proposal. The district is still proposing the removal of class size limits and elimination of transfer protection. Alisal educators will go to the table with a counter-proposal and are committed to bargaining and organizing throughout the summer months.
Educators were being asked to agree to no raises for five years, while Ramirez had his salary boosted in December from $168,000 to $180,000. Teachers’ anger has been steadily rising as they work longer without a contract.
Alisal teachers and classified staff have worked hard to increase test scores at schools in the district — some of which are among the lowest scores in the state. The district responded by pushing to lay off 25 classified employees.
Read media coverage of the no-confidence vote here.
UTR educators ratify agreement that makes gains
United Teachers of Richmond members have ratified a tentative agreement for a three-year contract that provides a restoration of two in-service days, a 1.15 percent increase in the salary schedule effective May 1, 2013, and an increase in their school district’s contributions to health benefits.
UTR represents 1,560 educators in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Teachers had voted down an earlier settlement offer. The union will return to the table in September to bargain the results of the state budget and other items not concluded in this last round of negotiations.
Coronado educators protect 24 jobs, defeat layoff notices
After the Coronado Unified School District in San Diego County issued 24 layoff notices for educators this year and demanded furlough days for the fourth year in a row, members of the Association of Coronado Teachers (ACT) ramped up organizing and won a victory.
They negotiated the reinstatement of all 24 teaching positions, and in addition achieved reinstatement of a 185-day work year. “We eagerly look forward to going back to the table next year and continue to work with CTA on behalf of our members,” says ACT President Laura Noonan.
Cambrian district teachers in San Jose are fed up
Cambrian School District educators in San Jose wore black at school board meetings in May and early June to protest the disrespectful tone of contract negotiations in the high-achieving K-8 district. Instead of ongoing raises, the district is offering only a one-time 5 percent bonus, says Alicia Williamson, president of the 120-member Cambrian District Teachers Association.
“The teachers here are fed up. The district is basically offering us nothing in terms of ongoing raises. We have given them 12 furlough days in the past two years.”
Cambrian educators have not had a raise in seven years, and are concerned about rising class sizes, which commonly reach 26 students in K-2 classrooms and 32 in grades 3-5.
Madera teachers pack school board meeting
Hundreds of frustrated teachers converged on the Madera Unified school board meeting May 28 to demand that the district return to the bargaining table and do the right thing — agree to negotiate a fair settlement. The leaders of the Madera Unified Teachers Association (MUTA) presented hundreds of letters written by teachers urging an end to the dispute.
A mother of four with a disabled spouse, science teacher Linda Tolladay was willing to go without a cost of living increase for six years in addition to accepting 14 unpaid furlough days. She says that situation has changed now that the district is flush with $37 million in reserves.
MUTA President Kathy Horn agrees. “This community deserves a high-quality educational program. It’s unconscionable for the district to hoard millions in reserves at the expense of its teachers. We have not asked for a penny. All we’ve asked for is a status quo agreement.”
The Madera Unified Teachers Association and the district are at impasse in their contract negotiations and were awaiting a report at press time from an independent fact-finding panel. Teachers have gone without a contract for almost a year.
Watch TV news coverage of the Madera school board protest here.
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