Unsettled AUSD and ATA Negotiations lead to strike
By Lori Bledsoe
For The Alpine Sun
As of Tuesday evening, reports of the outcome of the latest negotiations between the Alpine Union School District board of trustees, Superintendent Pelligrino, and the Alpine Teachers Association, were not good. At the close to the negotiations meeting, an impasse still existed. This outcome can and will cause a strike of the teachers that is to begin on Thursday, February 21, at 6:30 a.m.
The teachers association requested the negotiating meeting, and brought their proposals to the table, but none of the proposals could be funded, according to Superintendent Pelligrino.
This labor dispute has lived on for over sixteen months now, with neither the district nor the teachers finding common ground regarding the contracts that the employed teachers will work under.
Gayle Malone, the Alpine Teachers’ Association President said, “We were appalled, they didn’t even give us a 2nd counter. It seemed like they didn’t even try.”
The sad fact is, Pelligrino inferred in an interview, there just isn’t any money to fund a better deal than the district has on the table. Plus, even with the bargaining that was on the table, to be agreed upon, layoffs are still a valid outcome of the district’s financial woes. Per the press release to the Union Tribune, the demands stand as:
• The district proposed reducing the teachers salary cut from 7.58 percent to 6.58 percent for this school year. Teachers proposed a 4.58 percent cut, which they say is equivalent to what the fact finder’s report recommended.
• The district proposed a maximum contribution for health benefits of $8,500 per year (an increase of $500 from bargaining two weeks ago). Teachers propose a $12,000 contribution.
• The district proposes seven furlough days in 2014-15. Teachers propose two.
• Should the governor’s budget fund the gap created by state cuts since 2008, the district said it would restore an additional 3 percent to teachers’ salaries, effective July 1. Teachers want an additional 3.58 percent to be restored.
These proceedings have initiated heated debates among community members and teachers, with differing opinions, supporting opposite sides of the discussion. There have been attacks on outside sources, as well as intermittent picketing on Alpine street corners, school sites, as well as a Lakeside school. Teachers are angry and lashing out in frustration, and the main bargaining members are tired.
The strike however will cost the teachers a serious percentage of their income. The Alpine Sun office received a call announcing the strike from an anonymous caller, indicating that the district will be paying the substitutes $250. a day for their services. This is a true statement. While the figure seems high, it is not more than what an Alpine teacher makes in their daily wage, in fact it is far less than the average teacher makes in a day. The $250 includes a higher pay for the hazardous situation that the substitutes may have to traverse in crossing the picket line.