When teachers union leader Barry Kirschen asked members of the overflowing room to stand if they were offended, the response was unanimous.
"Faculty are disgusted by the district’s borderline illegal direct emailing of propaganda," Kirschen wrote in an email response. "State law calls for the district to negotiate with employees through their union, not with the union through employees. The district’s intent in emailing and leafleting faculty directly with its position in regard to negotiations is obvious and signals clear disrespect for faculty and their exclusive bargaining agent – the GSCFT. The offense is called Direct Dealing and it is an Unfair Labor Practice."The district sent a letter stating that Santa Cruz teachers were the highest paid in the county and that the district would go bankrupt if it gave them the retroactive raises teachers are seeking. Instead, it offered them a one time payment of $1,705 per teacher.
"The district’s inclusion of a Santa Cruz County salary comparison in their negotiation update is insulting to all Santa Cruz county workers," said Kirschen. "We all know that salaries in Santa Cruz County are notoriously low in regard to our cost of living. We also know that employees at districts similar to ours, statewide, enjoy higher compensation levels.
Teachers haven't had a raise since 2008 and were promised that if they didn't press for one until Proposition 30 passed, they would be made whole. Now, they say, that promise has been reneged on by Superintendent Gary Bloom and the school board. In response, administrators point to the fact that under the state's arcane guidelines, they still don't know how much the district will actually receive from the state and don't want to overspend.
The district's press release is here.
Kirschen also took issue with the district's proposed one-time payment:
"The district’s offer of 3% in the form of a one-time bonus or a flat one time amount of $1,705 is woefully inadequate," he wrote. "In the March 2012 contract agreement, the district promised a salary increase for 2012-13. The district’s offer of a 3% one time bonus or $1,705 is not a salary increase! Workers don’t get ahead with one-time bonus agreements.
"The teacher’s salary schedule and their ability to keep food on their tables improves with incremental increases year after year on the salary schedule. Teachers furloughed to help the district balance their books during the great recession."
He said the raise wouldn't bankrupt the district and the district last year found $1.2 million in unspent funds it moved into the following year, rather than give it to teachers.