San Francisco teachers union calls
for strike authorization vote
By Adam Martin, Bay City News Service
March 16, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO(BCN) - United Educators of San Francisco,
the union representing teachers in the San Francisco Unified School
District, today announced it will hold a strike authorization
vote by the end of the month.
President Dennis Kelly said today that an assembly of the union
had voted unanimously Wednesday to go ahead with the strike vote.
Teachers in the district have been working without a contract
since June, according to the union. "The district has taken
every opportunity to prolong these negotiations,'' Kelly said.
The union called an impasse in negotiations Feb. 2, after 29
meetings with the district over 366 days, it reported today. The
union has met with district officials twice under state mediation,
which began Feb. 24.
Further mediated sessions are scheduled for March 21, April 4
and April 10.
"My reaction as the chief negotiator is that we're disappointed,''
said Tom Ruiz, the district's head of labor relations. "It's
a puzzle to us why they would call for a strike vote while we're
still in mediation.''
The union and the district have been unable to come to an agreement
on the amount and distribution of a teacher salary increase. The
union wants a 10 percent raise, the bulk of which would be implemented
in the 18-month contract period. It also wants a 3 percent retroactive
raise for the last year. Kelly said retroactivity is important
because teachers have not received a raise since 2002.
The district has offered a 7.5 percent raise, but Kelly said
today that the bulk of that money would not reach teachers until
the 2006-2007 school year. Ruiz said today that the district has
offered a 2 percent raise retroactive to January.
Ruiz said the district would like the union's membership to vote
on whether to accept the district's offer before voting on whether
to authorize a strike. "We think 7.5 percent is a fair offer,
given the financial constraints the district finds itself in,''
In addition to a pay raise, the union is calling for capital
improvements to be made to school facilities. It also calls for
equity for paraprofessionals, or teachers' aides, which it represents.
During state-mediated negotiations, the union and the district
agreed to explore the use of a parcel tax to fund pay raises and
That solution, if it happens, would go into effect in 2008, and
would not benefit the current round of contract negotiations,
Kelly said today.
"The ball is in the district's court,'' Kelly said. "If
Superintendent (Gwen) Chan wants to solve this, she should step
up and do so. If the board of education wants to solve it, they
should step up and do so.''
Kelly said the date of the strike vote has not yet been set,
but that it will probably take place during the last week of March.
The union requires a "supermajority'' authorization, meaning
that 15 percent of the members must vote as a quorum, and two
thirds must approve the strike.
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