Advocacy

Bargaining Roundup

Banning: Seeking School Board Solutions

The Banning Teachers Association (BTA) will commit time and resources to the November school board race to bring enlightened, student-centered leadership to Banning Unified School District in Riverside County. BTA has organized rallies (above) and attended school board meetings en masse to protest Superintendent Robert Guillen’s behavior.

Guillen has repeatedly dismissed the current contract while bullying teachers and ignoring the wishes of the community on a host of issues. BTA has been forced to file an unfair labor practice charge.

“Mr. Guillen has stated on record that he feels he does not have to honor the contract between the teachers and the district,” BTA President Anthony Garcia says. “The community and the teachers find it difficult to have confidence in a superintendent who works this way.”

BTA contends that by disregarding the contract and paying thousands of dollars to lawyers to fight grievances, Guillen is driving out caring, experienced teachers at a time of teacher shortage. Negotiations on a new contract have stalled as well.

Folsom Cordova: Release Time, Parental Leaves

After more than a year of sometimes contentious negotiations, a tentative agreement was reached in September between the Folsom Cordova Education Association (FCEA) and the Folsom Cordova Unified School District (FCUSD).

“Our goals centered around attracting and retaining qualified teachers for our students, and stopping the exodus of great teachers to better-paying nearby districts.” — FCEA PRESIDENT ANGELICA MIKLOS

FCEA President Angelica Miklos credited Bargaining Chair Debbie Krikourian and her team for bringing home the settlement, which was later ratified by union members. “Our goals centered around attracting and retaining qualified teachers for our students, and stopping the exodus of great teachers to better-paying nearby districts,” Miklos says. “This agreement will help with that.”

Among other things, the three-year agreement includes release time for special education teachers, an increase in the district’s contributions for health benefits, and enhanced language on paternity and maternity leaves and evaluations. It also includes a 2 percent raise on schedule for 2016-17; a 1 percent increase this year; and a 0.5 percent increase for those who choose to attend a professional development day.

Santa Rosa: Tentative Agreement

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SRTA members pack an August school board meeting.

After two years of fruitless contract talks, members of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association (SRTA) mobilized and reached a Sept. 6 tentative agreement with the 16,500-student Santa Rosa City Schools district for modest compensation increases and progress in addressing issues such as health benefits and class size reduction.

“This tentative agreement is a step in the right direction, and something for the district and the union to build on,” says Will Lyon, president of the nearly 1,000-member SRTA. “We have to work together to protect students by halting teacher turnover caused by educators leaving for districts with better medical benefits.”

Union members vote in October on the three-year contract settlement, reached with the help of a state-appointed neutral fact-finder. It would increase teacher health benefits by $1,000 total for soaring premiums at a time when educators routinely pay thousands out of pocket for coverage. Overall, it provides a 1.5 percent ongoing raise, and a one-time bonus of 0.5 percent for the 2016-17 school year. Get updates at wearesrta.org.

Calaveras: Fighting for Smaller Class Size

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CUEA members hold a sign-making party the day before rallying and speaking to the CUSD school board.

In September, Calaveras Unified Educators Association (CUEA) members overwhelmingly voted to authorize the CUEA bargaining team to call a strike if necessary.

CUEA has been fighting to lower class sizes, address school safety issues, and settle a fair contract. During the last negotiations, Calaveras Unified School District (CUSD) rejected teachers’ proposal to develop a joint safety committee made up of management, teachers, school employees and parents. CUSD also proposed increasing class sizes for middle and high school students.

“The district’s refusal to prioritize our students has caused teacher morale to plummet, and has forced many of our teachers to leave our district,” says CUEA President Lorraine Angel. “This has created an inability to attract and retain the best teachers for Calaveras students.”

CUSD has been struggling to fill open positions, relying on recent college graduates with no teaching experience, who are offered jobs as noncredentialed teachers if they enroll in expedited credential programs.

The latest CUSD records show that the district came in $2 million under budget and raised its reserves by $716,000 in the 2016-17 school year, bringing the reserve total to $4.8 million. “The district is in the best financial shape it has been in years,” says Angel. “Now is the time that the school board must invest in our students.”

Williams: Going to Fact-Finding

The Williams Teachers Association (WTA) filed an unfair practice charge on Sept. 14 against Williams Unified School District (WUSD) in Colusa County, contending WUSD is not bargaining in good faith and has interfered with the rights of WTA members.

Teachers are angry that WUSD arbitrarily and unilaterally stopped paying stipends for extraduty work, as outlined in the current contract. The contract provides stipends for teachers serving as class advisers in grades 7-12.

WTA members are also upset over the district’s refusal to allow teacher input into the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program for the 2017-18 school year. “Teachers know the best way to improve student learning,” says WTA President Tony Hermann. “We want to negotiate the effects of the district’s decisions.”

Despite the district receiving millions in new money from the state to provide a quality education to students, the school board offered no salary improvement to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. Meanwhile, Superintendent Edgar Lampkin, district managers and classified staff were offered a 3.4 percent salary hike.

After failed mediation efforts, a state-appointed mediator has certified the parties to fact-finding, the next and final step in the negotiations process. Lack of a settlement after the fact-finding hearing will set the stage for a possible strike.

Details of these stories at cta.org/bargainingupdates

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