There was a teacher strikeÂ reprieve two days ago when this release came out: “Capistrano Teachers Issue Bargaining Proposal Designed to Prevent Strike.”
The teachers’ position in their battle with the CUSD Board of Trustees has been rather simple. Â Cuts need to be made and the teachers have been willing to take cuts in pay and benefits, but what they will not do is take them permanently nor give up their bargaining rights.
They also want the Board of Trustees to sit down with them behind closed doors and bargain at a table as two interested parties should do. Not via warring press releases or even worse, as the board has done, one press release to the public and a different communication toÂ CUEA, the union representing the CUSD teachers.
It was a tense day yesterday as many waited to hear what the Board would do as teachers offered their olive branch, a chance to bargain.
ALISO VIEJO â€“ Challenging the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Education to back up vague offers to â€œentertain discussionâ€ related to bargaining, the 2,200 members of the Capistrano Unified Education Association invite the board back to the bargaining table to negotiate, based upon the following proposals:
The board will reverse the permanent nature of salary and benefits cuts they imposed March 31 by making them temporary; There will be no increase in class size; The board will restore salary, unpaid work days, and benefits cuts if unforeseen funds are received; The board will implement already agreed to contract language that deals with working conditions, transfer of teachers, and leaves as stipulated to in the fact finding hearing.
â€œIt has never been the goal of Capistrano teachers to strike,â€ said CUEA President Vicki Soderberg. â€œWe have always been willing to bargain in good faith, and we immediately accepted the neutral fact finderâ€™s settlement recommendation. Although the CUSD school boardâ€™s unilateral imposition forced us into voting a strike authorization, we much prefer to settle our differences through bargaining.â€
â€œIn recent media reports and direct communications to teachers, the CUSD Board of Education has implied that they are willing to bargain with the teachers, but the board has yet to make a formal, direct proposal to CUEA. We want our members, our students, the public, and the board to be perfectly clear that we do not want to strike and that we want to reach a negotiated settlement. We challenge the board to live up to their recent statements and accept our proposal for an agreement,â€ said Soderberg.
All the teachers want is to negotiate the points stipulated in this proposal, all of which were supported by the independent mediator appointed by the State to attempt to come to an agreement.
The Board of Trustees had until 5 pm yesterday, Tuesday, to answer CUEA’s proposal. They waited until the last possible moment to do so, and did it in a way that wasÂ hostile and rather patronizing. The letter to the teachers did not come from the Trustees but fromÂ their Lawyers.
The money quote from the letter is this, â€œPre-conditioning a return to the bargaining table upon the acceptance of a negotiation proposal backed up by a threat of a strike constitutes, among other things, an unfair labor practice.”
Apparently the Board’s lawyer is not very familiar with the Wagner Act, since threatening to strike does not, in and of itself, constitute an unfair labor practice. Or perhaps she’s just posturing… Either way,Â the last thing teachers want to do is strike.
This is what we all must understand as parents, that the teachers do not want to strike. Â This is not an easy choice for them and it is not one that they make lightly.
ALISO VIEJO â€“ â€œIf youâ€™re really serious about bargaining, you donâ€™t start out by threatening legal action. Once again the Capistrano Board of Education is attempting to equivocate and obfuscate instead of negotiate,â€ said CUEA President Vicki Soderberg.
â€œDespite the boardâ€™s vague offer to commence negotiations â€˜regarding various issues,â€™ they are flatly rejecting to bargain CUEAâ€™s specific, unambiguous proposal. We clearly gave them a chance to avertÂ a strike and their refusal leaves teachers no choice. CUEA members will walk the picket lines beginning, Thursday, April 22. At the same time, our bargaining team will accept the boardâ€™s invitation to talk on Thursday. If we determine that they are serious about reaching a settlement, teachers and students can be back in the schools Friday. Itâ€™s up to the board to prove theyâ€™re serious about reaching a settlement.â€
In a formal request delivered early Monday, April 19, giving the Capistrano board a 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 20 deadline to respond, CUEA asked the board to come back to the bargaining table to negotiate based on the following specific proposals:
- The board will reverse the permanent nature of salary and benefits cuts they imposed March 31 by making them temporary;
- There will be no increase in class size;
- The board will restore salary, unpaid work days, and benefits cuts if 4. unforeseen funds are received;
The board will implement already agreed to contract language that deals with working conditions, transfer of teachers, and leaves as stipulated to in the fact finding hearing.
â€œWhere in the boardâ€™s response is the mention of making the permanent cuts temporary and of being willing to enter into the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the board has informally offered in public throughout the last two weeks? Where is a clear, unambiguous offer to restore the cuts if unforeseen funds become available? The teachersâ€™ proposal was explicit. Given the boardâ€™s history of duplicitous behavior, they have to make unequivocally clear that they want to reach a settlement. Teachers are far beyond â€˜sham bargainingâ€™ cloaked in vague, confusing, and ambiguous promises,â€ said Soderberg.
â€œThe boardâ€™s rejection of our clear proposal and their continued ambiguity has put us where we never wanted to be. It is unfortunate that the board wants chaos instead of clear communication. It has never been the teachersâ€™ goal to strike, but if it takes walking the picket line to bring the board to a place of clarity and mutual respect, then teachers have no choice. We must stand firm for our profession, for our students, and for the long-term stability of the district.â€
So, now what?
If we want this strike to be short we must support teachers in the next few days and we must be clear that the Board of Trustees should accept the four simple requests outlined above.
The more students who are kept home, the more parents who stand side by side with teachers, and the more parents who call and email the Trustees about this, the more likely it is Â this will end quickly.
Here is what you can do…
And this is the most important thing to remember: teachers would rather be teaching than striking.
There is a lot at stake here. People and members of the press outside of Orange County are paying attention. TheÂ LA Times have written a piece about this issue. Â Let’s show them that parents support teachers, that we support public education and that we believe Capistrano Unified School District to be one of the best districts in California and that it deserves to retain the amazing teachers it has.
The LA Times got it right the first time unlike the OC Register, which has failed to get the issue correct the many times it has written about the ongoing negotiations.
The teachers’ union has said it will accept the pay cuts only if the district agrees to make them temporary, according to Vicki Soderberg, president the Capistrano Unified Education Assn.
Soderberg said teachers also want the district to promise it will funnel to teachers’ salaries any unforeseen state or federal funding that may come in. The union, a local chapter of the California Teachers Association, voted to call the strike last week, Soderberg said.
â€œTeachers donâ€™t want to strike,” she said. â€œBut theyâ€™re being forced to do so.â€
It’s the shock doctrine. Public education is the next in line to go — privatize education. Â Just last week our local paper printed the list of teachers to be laid off in Orange County.
Orange County school districts have started releasing the names of teachers and other staff who were issued layoff warnings on March 15 or told their temporary contracts won’t be renewed.
In all, 2,586 educators have been given pink slips, though districts acknowledged that the figure is likely greater than those who will receive final notices May 15.