Teachers continue strike threat pressure
She said the pre-fact-finding mediation last month was very distressing to her as a negotiations team member, teacher, parent and voting community member.
She said the STA negotiations team was given false hopes during a pre-fact-finding meeting held last month. At the end of the day, “the district sent an offer that was so unacceptable, ridiculous and absurd that as STA advocates, we simply could not respond. It was a ‘slap in the face’ offer. The offer confirms, once again, that the employees in this district are viewed as unimportant by both the district board and the management team.”
She criticized the board and the district’s management for hiring School Services of California for the purpose of “advising, training and providing information to county offices of education and school districts that perhaps do not have the resources, skills or expertise to perform their own fiscal responsibilities.”
She said the private business appears to “perpetuate an agenda to balance school budgets on the backs of students and employees rather than make the necessary cuts in programs.”
Even though the SSD’s budget has been approved by the Lassen County Superintendent of Schools — including designated reserves for increased compensation for teachers — School Services advises against any increases because of the potential of budget cuts at the state level. Several school districts in Northern California have recently settled contract disputes with wages increasing by 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent, she said.
“This school district is very fiscally sound,” she said. “You have budgeted for contingencies. Why is that same budget not applied to your negotiations? You have designated reserves for a fair and equitable settlement yet you continue to make offers that are not consistent with your own fiscal decisions.
“It’s time to make local decisions that positively affect those that make this district continue to be successful. There will be irreparable damage should a strike be the only means by which this group of loyal, competent and skilled teachers can effect a meaningful change in their contract. If there is a strike, School Services’ advice will not help. Please reconsider your position on our contract before much more damage is done.”
“Here we are again,” said Ken Unterreiner, president of STA. “This is getting to be old hat. It’s getting to be old hat with you, and it’s certainly getting to be old hat with me, and all these members who are sitting out here are thinking the same thing.”
Reading from a prepared statement, Unterreiner said, “The pre-fact finding was entirely unsuccessful and a complete waste of time for the Susanville Teachers Association. This was a time for you to continue your insults. It was a time for the teachers of this district to continue their hope for a fair and equitable contract for the 2006-2007 school year.”
Unterreiner said the teachers are willing to negotiate and settle this disagreement.
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