Teachers picket over stalled negotiations

Demonstration held outside high school district meeting Wednesday
2014-01-16T00:50:00Z 2014-05-09T13:50:29Z Teachers picket over stalled negotiationsBy Lauren Foreman/lforeman@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times

Teachers and faculty union supporters marched in single-file lines outside of Santa Maria High School’s Ethel Pope Auditorium on Wednesday. They held signs printed with phrases such as “Fair Contract,” “Keep Class Sizes As Is” and “Teachers Voice Hear Us.” 

The group, led by union members in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, were picketing outside the school board meeting to bring attention to contract negotiations that reached a stalemate in mid-December.

Mark Goodman, president of the teachers’ union, said faculty association and district representatives have been bargaining for more than a year but progress halted when district officials reversed aspects of a two-year deal that bargaining teams had agreed to enact Dec. 6.

“Now we’re back to square one,” Goodman said.

Square one is a district contract proposal to eliminate a 28-1 student-to-teacher hiring ratio; restructure the shared decision-making committees in place at each district school into advisory groups; and eliminate about six memorandums of understanding that determine English language coaching responsibility, faculty input in some hiring decisions and other separate employment facets.

Tanya Guiremand, a teacher at Santa Maria High School, said the changes would take away teachers’ rights to be involved in decisions about curriculum.

“It’s unfortunate because we would lose our voice,” she said.

Carl Lange, consultant to the district, said an agreement would have upheld a compromise to reverse some of the district’s original contract deletions.

He explained that the district and union discussed talking points to reach a deal and agreed Dec. 6 to draft a framework, which the board of trustees approved.

Part of the agreement was a 4-percent raise and 3-percent bonus for teachers — an increase from the district’s earlier proposal.

Lange said when he took a written version of the framework to the union, teachers halted the process because of what he considers minor changes.

“Honestly we thought that we were going to have a deal before Christmas, and when it didn’t come to pass we were disappointed,” Lange said.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. moneyspeaksformoney
    Report Abuse
    moneyspeaksformoney - January 24, 2014 11:26 am
    John, your account is simplistic and polemical. While it is true there were protests from the audience regarding the student's denigration of a teacher she mentioned by name, the protests were justified because a Board meeting is not the appropriate venue in which to attack or prosecute a teacher.

    The members of the Board should recognize this and should have set some guidelines regarding this. Instead, they let it go, and the words of both student and parents who followed were pure invective and completely unprofessional.

    I, personally, applaud the student for speaking up, and I concede that she presented arguments, some of which were plausible, and based on some research she did. I admire her for standing up for her rights.

    John, your subtext (that SMJUHSD teachers are racists) distubs me. Does it matter that the
    teachers allegedly "interrupted Latino parents," or that they interrupted parents? Isn't the issue here what people say rather than what ethnicity they claim? Are you really going to omit the specific arguments the parents made in your diatribe and suggest, without evidence, that your hasty assumption is the correct one? At least the student who spoke at the meeting earned her credibility by offering us some evidence.

    Furthermore, who are "these type of people" [sic]? Would the teachers have more credibility if they were to call you, the parents present at the meeting, or the Board members who spoke liars? These are the words that were hurled upon the leaders of our Faculty Association in this public forum, by both parents and a Board member. Language Arts teachers discuss with their students the concept of ethos--the rhetorical appeal to character or credibility. John, what kind of credibility do you expect to generate by placing the race card instead of doing your research and presenting the facts more objectively?

    We teachers are not racists! We love the children (and parents) of Santa Maria and have given our lives in their service! We are not liars! We simply want a fair contract that recognizes teachers' rights, and we want the cost of living raise that is earmarked for us by the State of California so that we can support our families and maintain a decent standard of living on the Central Coast.
  2. John
    Report Abuse
    John - January 18, 2014 6:26 pm
    I attended the school board meeting on 1/15/14 at Santa Maria high school and would like to share some observations with the public.

    I was born and raised in Santa Maria. I have attended many school board meetings in the Santa Maria Bonita school district as well as the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District. I have never seen anything like I witnessed last Wednesday night by local teachers and their supporters.

    The catcalls began when board member, Mr. Victor Tognazzini, went over the district's proposal/offer to the faculty association. He then challenged the rhetoric the union was circulating throughout the district for months. Teachers stood up, yelling and screaming, interrupting Mr. Tognazzini several times before board member Dr. Karamitsos called the meeting to order. The evening got more contentious when a teacher from Pioneer Valley high school took the podium during the public comment period and challenged union president Mark Goodman, point by point, regarding the faculty associations assertions regarding salary, health benefits, hiring ratios, just to name a few. He then turned to the crowd, thanked the parents who showed up to support their students, even though teachers picketed the entire high school, concluded by saying “ I work for you, not the union!”

    Teachers in the crowd were livid and took out their frustrations on the Latino parents who followed. Time after time, teachers and their supporters interrupted Latino parents as they tried to speak during the public comment period. But the event that was really disturbing was when a sophomore at Santa Maria high school took the podium to address the board. Before she even began to speak, a teacher in the crowd yelled out “You better show respect!” A parent in the front row immediately turned around and told the teacher “You better show respect!” All through her comments, teachers derided the students attempt of addressing her concerns with the block schedule at Santa Maria high school.

    I can understand teachers attacking a board member, a fellow teacher, even a parent. But a 16 year old girl? No wonder there is a waiting list at Orcutt Academy. I would be terrified to send my child to any public high school in Santa Maria who employs these type of people!
  3. Rick James
    Report Abuse
    Rick James - January 16, 2014 4:47 pm
    Yo Flav,

    Back off that teacher, I'm pretty sure a young guy like that, after 5 years of college, two degrees, one credential and student-teaching for 6 months, probably starts at $40,000 a year.

    The only time Flav gets a raise is when he jumps on his boyfriends lap!

    Our wonderful teachers deserve a better raise than what Flav gets!

    Fo Shure,

    Slick Rick
  4. Carlos Santana
    Report Abuse
    Carlos Santana - January 16, 2014 1:45 pm
    Yo Flav,

    Back off that young teacher, I'm pretty sure a young guy like that,after 5 years of college, two degrees, one credential and student-teaching for 6 months, probably starts at $40,000 a year.

    No raise for six years?

    Our wonderful teachers deserve better.

    Fo Shure,

    Carlos
  5. Chris Harmon
    Report Abuse
    Chris Harmon - January 16, 2014 12:28 pm
    You can make that assumption if you want to, but teachers were asked to wear either their t-shirts and/or something blue: since I happen to have more inside information than you do, I'm going to assume that he chose to do both.
  6. flavor flav
    Report Abuse
    flavor flav - January 16, 2014 11:25 am
    the guy in the pic wearing the sweater has his sweater zipped and is pointless wearing it,and hes holding the sign to comer his face ,guess he was forced into protesting
  7. Chris Harmon
    Report Abuse
    Chris Harmon - January 16, 2014 9:58 am
    Somewhat misleading in this article: The "agreement" did not originally include a "4-percent raise and a 3-percent bonus" until the board announced that last night at the meeting. The document sent to teachers JUST THIS PAST MONDAY offered only a 2% raise and 3% bonus. It seems that the board and/or district administrators have changed their tune since Monday.

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