In their final offer to the union’s bargaining team — which was rejected and called “unconscionable” by the union – district administrators offered teachers an unchanged salary schedule (no cuts, no increases) and said they wouldn’t cut elementary school teachers’ prep periods, according to union President Betty Olson-Jones.
Both sides say they want to avoid a strike, but they can’t even seem to agree on whether mediation has ended or whether they can discuss what I just wrote about (you can find the full story here).
The news release I received from OEA said the contract dispute was certified for the next phase after mediation, known as fact-finding. But an e-mail I got this evening from Troy Christmas, the director of labor relations for the district, said “This is simply not true” (with “not true” underlined for emphasis). Christmas said the two sides were still in mediation and that the union violated the confidentiality agreement by discussing the district’s proposal.
What the union wants: Union leaders note that Oakland teachers are among the lowest paid in the county; they want annual 5 percent raises for the next three years and a greater assurance of maintaining small class sizes at the elementary school level, Olson-Jones said.
The challenge: The district faces a $27 million deficit for next year alone, a figure that Superintendent Tony Smith says is only likely to grow.
A parcel tax that would have boosted teachers salaries — which the teachers union opposed – failed in November 2008. Some in the district want to give it another try, this time with broader support, but the union leadership passed a resolution this fall saying OEA wouldn’t back the campaign if independently run, publicly funded charter schools would receive any of the funds.
Board member Kakishiba, though, has suggested the district use Measure G parcel tax money to boost the salaries of teachers in their first five or 10 years — when they’re most likely to leave.
What do you think should be done?