Thursday, October 8, 2009
The Sweetwater Union High School District and its teachers union reached a tentative labor deal after a 15-hour-long bargaining session.
SAN DIEGO The Sweetwater Union High School District and its teachers union reached a tentative labor deal after a 15-hour-long bargaining session.
The tentative settlement caps a contentious year marked with picketing, rallies and a push to oust Sweetwater Superintendent Jesus Gandara.
Sweetwater teachers were working under terms of an expired contract for more than a year. The union and district deadlocked on a number of issues -- but one of the main sticking points was student-to-teacher ratios.
A fact-finding panel helped both sides to strike a deal.
In the end, the union agreed to larger student-to-teacher ratios in exchange for a district promise of no salary cuts.
School board president Jim Cartmill hopes the union and the district can put the past behind them.
“Time heals wounds,” Cartmill said. “It's going to take a little while but I think now that we've had an objective third party come in … I think there is more clarity now for more people.”
Just yesterday the union staged a large protest outside of district headquarters. Union president Alex Anguiano says his people will continue to push for better working conditions and benefits. He says the district was not a good partner throughout negotiations.
“Do I believe that we have been treated fairly by the district during these negotiations? Absolutely not,” Anguiano said. “Will we remember how we were treated? Yes. Will we attempt to move forward? Yes we will.”
All six of the district's employee unions cast votes of no confidence in the superintendent this year for the way he handled negotiations. That's a first in district history.
Anguiano says the union is now looking to next year's school board elections to change things.
In the meantime, the three-year tentative deal still needs to be voted on by union members. The union represents more than 2,200 teachers and nurses in the district.