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California teachers threaten strikes over cuts

Teachers in a number of California school districts have been threatening to strike over cuts and the refusal of their boards of education to negotiate contracts in good faith since the beginning of the funding "crisis" that has hit California and many other states. While the Los Angeles school district has served layoff notices on more than 5,000 school system workers (most of them teachers), other districts are pushing similar measures.

Below is a recent article about how teachers are responding in the famous Capistrano school district.

Capistrano School Board Rejects Teachers’ Proposal... Ambiguous offer to negotiate begins with veiled threat

ALISO VIEJO – “If you’re really serious about bargaining, you don’t start out by threatening legal action. Once again the Capistrano Board of Education is attempting to equivocate and obfuscate instead of negotiate,” said CUEA President Vicki Soderberg.

“Despite the board’s vague offer to commence negotiations ‘regarding various issues,’ they are flatly rejecting to bargain CUEA’s specific, unambiguous proposal. We clearly gave them a chance to avert 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 board’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. It’s up to the board to prove they’re serious about reaching a settlement.”

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 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.

“Where in the board’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 teachers’ proposal was explicit. Given the board’s history of duplicitous behavior, they have to make unequivocally clear that they want to reach a settlement. Teachers are far beyond ‘sham bargaining’ cloaked in vague, confusing, and ambiguous promises,” said Soderberg.

“The board’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 teachers’ 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.



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