San Francisco schools, teachers begin mediated
By Adam Martin, Bay City News Service
February 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The union representing San Francisco
teachers and school district paraprofessionals entered state mediated
contract talks with the district today, in the final negotiating
process before a possible strike.
The United Educators of San Francisco declared an impasse in
contract negotiations Feb. 2 after they could not agree with the
district on the percentage by which teacher and staff salaries
would increase over the next 18 months.
Negotiators sat down with a state mediator this morning in the
Sunset district, said union spokesman Matthew Hardy, to set up
ground rules as the first step in the negotiations. The union
has eight people at the table, including president Dennis Kelly
and elected officers as well as representatives from the rank
The school district is represented by labor relations director
Tom Ruiz and an independent lawyer, Hardy said.
"We hope this will be a quick process. We want to get back
to focusing on the classroom,'' Hardy said, but he said the union
would hold out until their demands are met. He said of recent
district negotiations with the Service Employees International
Union (SEIU), "the district took them to the brink of a strike''
before essentially meeting their demands.
"We're focusing on mediation and remain hopeful that we
will be able to come to a settlement,'' district spokeswoman Lorna
Ho said today. But she did not deem it likely that the district
would increase its offer of a 7.5 percent pay raise over the next
18 months to the union's requested 10 percent. At the beginning
of negotiations, the union requested a 12 percent raise while
the district offered none at all. Since then the district has
offered 2 percent, 4 percent and finally 7.5 percent.
"We've been very adamant about the fact that we don't really
have funds to up this offer. It's fair to say that if there were
any movement at all it would be very little,'' Ho said.
"It's a question of equity for us. We've settled with one
union and we have a tentative agreement with another. They're
all in line with one another. It's only fair to our employees
that we give them all the same thing.''
The district came to a tentative agreement Thursday with the
United Administrators of San Francisco, which represents principals
and other administrators. In that agreement the union accepted
a 7.5 percent raise over 18 months. In December, SEIU maintenance
workers ratified a three-year contract with the district that
gave them a 4 percent raise and 75 percent of their health care
On the day the union declared the impasse, Kelly said its members
had waited too long for a pay raise. "Our people have not
received a raise since 2002,'' he said.
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