After 15 months of negotiations and two years without a contract, the 480 educators of Lincoln Unified Teachers Association (LUTA) are ready to take a strike vote if they can’t reach an agreement by April 22.
Oddly, the lengthy and contentious negotiations aren’t due to extended bargaining over wages and benefits—both sides came to agreement on those a year ago. Rather, the sticking issue is improving learning conditions for all 9,400 Lincoln students. LUTA is committed to creating the schools that Lincoln students deserve while Lincoln Unified School District (LUSD) refuses to budge for its kids.
This major philosophical disagreement about just what LUSD should do to give Lincoln students every opportunity to succeed has forced LUTA and the district to impasse. LUTA officials say if there is no agreement by April 22, they will take a strike vote.
Major items of dispute include the restoration of music time to third-grade and transitional kindergarten students, lack of equity in classroom budgets, the district’s refusal to pay induction costs of new educators and LUSD’s desire to implement kindergarten day extension without a collaborative plan.
LUTA educators have been organizing and mobilizing, holding informational pickets, packing school board meetings and working bell-to-bell to show the school district that they’re not backing down when it comes to Lincoln kids.
Following another picket before last week’s meeting, LUTA President Tiffany Fuhrmeister addressed the LUSD school board, reporting that they had reached conceptual agreement with the district on a number of core items, but lamenting that the former superintendent had raised a new priority at the table. This moving of the goalpost by LUSD undercuts the progress, creates distrust and brings LUTA to the brink of a strike vote.
“Once again, we overcome issues only to be brought down by gamesmanship,” Fuhrmeister said.