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Last Minute Deal Keeps National City Teachers In School

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Video published February 4, 2011 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Teachers' strikes are almost non-existent in the county's school districts. Is National City the canary in the coal mine, signaling some tough times ahead as education is squeezed by the state budget?

Today could have been a day without work for 350 public school teachers in National City. But an 11th hour agreement between the district and the teachers union returned the teachers to the classroom rather than the picket lines. KPBS education reporter Ana Tintocalis is following the action.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

TODAY COULD HAVE BEEN A DAY WITHOUT WORK FOR 350 SCHOOL TEACHERS IN NATIONAL CITY BUT AN 11th HOUR AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE DISTRICT AND TEACHERS UNION RETURNED THE TEACHERS TO THE CLASSROOM RATHER THAN TO THE PICTURE LINES. KPBS EDUCATION REPORTER IS FOLLOWING THE ACTION AND WHAT ACTION THERE'S. WHY WOULD THE TEACHER CONSIDER A STRIKE IN FACT FIRST PLACE?

THEIR CONTRACT EXPIRED LAST JULY SO THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING WITHOUT A CONTRACT. THE DISTRICT AND TEACHERS UNION WERE LOCKED IN A BITTER DISPUTE, SO FOR THE PAST YEAR OR SO THEY HAVE BEEN AT AN IMPASS AND CONTRACT TALKS FELL A PART LATE LAST YEAR. IT WAS OVER DISTRICT I MPOSED CUTS.

WAS THERE REALLY ANY DANGER OF A STRIKE OR IS THIS JUST BUSINESS AS USUAL WHEN A NEW CONTRACT IS BEING DISCUSSED?

NO THIS WAS A REALLY THREAT. THE TEACHERS GAVE THEIR LABOR UNION LEADERS THE POWER TO CALL A STRIKE. SO THE TEACHERS WERE BEHIND THIS. LABOR LEADERS EARLIER SAID OKAY, WE ARE GOING TO GO DO THIS SO THEY VOTED TO CALL A STRIKE. THE DEADLINE THEY SET WAS FRIDAY AND THEY WERE PUTTING TOGETHER PICKET SIGNS. THEY DECIDED TO MEET IN THE 11th HOUR. THE WORD HAD SPREAD THAT WE ARE WALKING OFF THE JOB ON THIS DAY AND EVEN MYSELF I WAS UP ALL NIGHT. WE THOUGHT THE TEACHERS WOULD WALK OUT.

SO WHAT WAS THE COMPROMISE, WHAT DID THEY COME UP WITH AS A NEGOTIATING POINT. THIS WAS AN 11th HOUR SITUATION AND IN THE END THEY AGREED TO ALTER THE SCHOOL CALENDAR. THEY AGREED TO ALTER THEIR WORK. IN EXCHANGE THEY WILL MAINTAIN CLASS SIZES WHICH IS A DIFFICULT THING TO DO. THEY SAID WE WILL TRY TO SCALE BACK ON A NUMBER OF FURLOUGH DAYS THAT WE PUT ON YOU THE STATE HE EDUCATION FUNDING IS RESTORED AND A LOT OF THAT HINGES ON GOVERNOR'S BROWN SPECIAL ELECTION IN JUNE. FIVE FOR LOW DAYS TO FOUR DAYS AS PART OF THE DEAL AND THEY WILL SCALE IT BACK IN SOMETHING HAPPENS IN THE JUNE SPECIAL ELECTION.

IT IS SORT OF LINKED TO WHAT GOVERNOR BROWN DOES AND WHAT REVENUE IN THE STATE, IF THEY INCREASE. I'M WONDERING IN THIS IS, TEACHER'S --IF THIS IS, TEACHERS STRIKES ARE ALMOST UNHEARD OF, IS THIS SIGNALING TOUGH TIMES AHEAD AS EDUCATION SQUEEZED BY THE STATE BUDGET?

ABSOLUTELY. THIS CASE IN NATIONAL CITY SERVES FOR A MODEL FOR THE STATE, WHAT YOU ARE SEEING NOW ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS LOOKING AT A TEACHER'S CONTRACT TO SAVE MONEY. SO THEY ARE TEARING INTO TEACHER'S CONTRACTS TO BALANCE BUDGETS. THEY SAID WE ARE CHANGING YOUR WORKING CONDITIONS AND THE TEACHERS SAID NO YOU CANNOT DO THAT WITHOUT CONSULTING US FIRST, YOU'LL SEE A LOT MORE SCHOOL DISTRICTS BEING FORCED TO LOCK AT PERSONNEL AND ALTER THE FORCED CONTRACT CHANGES TO SAVE MONEY.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

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