Across the state, CTA members are fighting for improved teaching conditions and professional compensation. Find out more at www.cta.org/bargainingupdates.
Madera teachers want what’s right, not what’s left
CTA Vice President Eric Heins brought the full support of CTA to hundreds of Madera Unified Teachers Association members in the Central Valley who have been trying to reach a fair contract settlement.
Over the past few years, more than 100 teachers were laid off, while MUTA members accepted unpaid furlough days and increased class sizes. Teachers have not had a salary increase in five years and have seen hikes in their health care costs. Meanwhile, the school district has stockpiled $37 million in reserves.
During a board meeting in April, some 450 educators turned out in red shirts and picketed along Howard Road before their sheer numbers forced the trustees to move the meeting to the larger cafeteria at Madera South High School.
“They’re standing up for their jobs. They’re standing up for what’s right,” says MUTA President Kathy Horn.
MUTA maintains the district has not bargained in good faith, and has filed an unfair labor practice charge. At press time, the teachers were urging the district to return to the bargaining table while awaiting a report from a fact-finding panel. Teachers have also set up a strike organizing team, should talks break down completely.
Heins joined CTA Board member Elana Davidson and NEA Director Ron Edwards during an afternoon demonstration April 23 before a meeting of the school board. The demonstration was just the latest action by MUTA members in their fight to obtain a bargaining agreement.
Watch TV coverage of the April 23 protest here.
Desert Sands superintendent gets pay raise, teachers offered takebacks
Members of the Desert Sands Teachers Association (DSTA) in Riverside County are wearing black on contract negotiation days in mourning for the death of respect to educators in their school district.
They are alarmed by the takebacks in the Desert Sands Unified School District’s opening contract proposals for the 2013-14 school year: The district is asking for either furlough days or salary schedule roll-backs (a real slap in the faces of teachers who haven’t seen a COLA since 2007, and who worked hard to pass the governor’s Proposition 30 to stop drastic school cuts); reduced prep times for teachers; and reduction of extra-duty stipends.
Adding insult to injury, the district refuses to support the kinds of compensation agreements made by neighboring Coachella Valley districts that help teachers make ends meet. This is despite the hiring of a new superintendent with a total compensation package worth $257,000. Giving stipends to DSTA members would be irresponsible, the district claims.
“It completely mystifies me that any intelligent person could claim they must be fiscally responsible and deny teachers any kind of increase, when they feel it is hunky-dory to pay a superintendent of a school district more than the vice president of the United States,” says DSTA President Mona Davidson.
Alisal educators in Salinas frustrated with bargaining delays
Fed up with working without a contract that expired in June 2011, members of the Alisal Teachers Association (ATA) in Monterey County picketed the Alisal Union School District’s school board meeting April 24 in an escalation of their contract fight.
Teacher anger has been steadily increasing as they work longer without a contract, and the Salinas district keeps coming to the table unprepared. “We should have finished negotiations months ago,” says Joshua Ezekiel, the ATA political action chair. “This board had no difficulty offering Superintendent John Ramirez a new contract with a raise. However, when it comes to teachers, the board can’t even make a proposal.”
The board in December approved raising the superintendent’s salary from $168,000 to $180,000. Alisal teachers and classified staff have worked hard to increase test scores at schools in the district — some of whose scores were among the lowest in the state. Now the district wants to lay off 25 classified employees.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished,” says ATA President John Aaron. “We are still waiting for serious negotiations to take place.”
Bellevue teachers in Santa Rosa fight takebacks
Fed up with a district that has rising financial reserves but refuses to invest in its teachers, Bellevue Union School District educators packed the school board meeting April 16 and demanded respect and fair treatment at the bargaining table.
Since the 2007-08 school year, the district’s unrestricted ending balance has tripled from $1.9 million to $6 million. Yet the district is seeking takebacks from educators. While administrators pay no out-of-pocket money for family health coverage, teachers and classified staff pay $1,000 to $1,500 per month of their own money for family coverage. Teachers want a fair raise offer, especially since they have had no raises in about three years. And they oppose the district’s proposal to give higher increases to less senior teachers and smaller raises to more experienced educators.
“The district’s reserves are not being invested in our educators or our students as they should be,” says teacher Heidi Kreklau, president of the 100-member Bellevue Education Association. “It’s time for the school board to understand that an investment in recruiting and retaining educators is an investment in our community.”
The chapter has declared an impasse in negotiations, the first step toward having a state mediator step in.
Oakland “Hour of Power” mobilizes community
Stepping up their fight for a fair contract, Oakland Education Association members took to the streets April 17 and demonstrated on five street corners for an “Hour of Power” event to mobilize the community about their struggle.
Many Oakland teachers are leaving the district due to low pay. The district, despite its $25 million in excess reserve funds, is refusing the OEA’s proposal of a 3.5 percent raise for this school year. The protests will continue and are educating the public about the district’s lack of priorities: For this school year, the district budgeted for 234 fewer certificated employees (teachers, counselors, etc.) and 36 fewer classified employees, but 37 more administrators, says OEA President Trish Gorham.
Teachers, students and parents picketed at five high-visibility Oakland corners: 35th and MacArthur, the Grand Lake Splash Pad Park, 51st and Broadway, 98th and International, and 7th Street and Market. See more about the Oakland bargaining campaign at www.oaklandea.org.
Ramona: Can a strike be avoided?
A strike authorization vote is imminent for Ramona Teachers Association members. Despite impassioned pleas from teachers, parents, students and community leaders to resume negotiations, the Ramona Unified School District School Board unilaterally imposed three years of drastic cuts — 7.8 percent for 2012-13 and 9.4 percent for both 2013 -14 and 2014-15 — at a special board meeting April 22.
Six furlough days between now and the end of the current school year and retroactive health and welfare benefits cuts backdated to February 2013 mean that the 255 members in the rural San Diego County district will lose an average of 50 percent in gross pay from their May and June paychecks. In the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years, each will lose hundreds of dollars from every warrant.
“The board imposed these egregious cuts knowing full well that it will leave many teachers unable to pay their mortgages or rent, their car payments, or food and utilities for them and their families,” says RTA President Donna Braye-Romero.
Expressions of support for RTA members can be sent to the Ramona Teachers Association, 15838 Gantry Way, Ramona, CA 92065; e-mailed to email@example.com; or posted to the Ramona Teachers Association Facebook page.