Pasadena Unified at odds with union over contract

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Pasadena Unified’s school superintendent says contract talks with the teachers union are at an impasse – so a mediator should step in.

That declaration has union leaders scratching their heads. United Teachers of Pasadena president Jeffrey Leming says the union had agreed to no pay raises for three years, 15 unpaid days off over three years, and to have members absorb additional health care costs.

He says the teachers are giving up a lot – so why declare an impasse now? "It’s absolutely ridiculous and absurd that they would declare impasse when the two parties were close to an agreement."

Leming says the union wasn’t willing to accept a proposal to cap what the district spends on teacher benefits. In a statement, Pasadena Unified Superintendent Edwin Diaz said without a cost-cutting agreement, the district will have to issue preliminary layoff notices next month.

About 200 teaching positions are at stake. The school district is facing a $23 million funding deficit for the next two fiscal years.

Since the school district’s the only party declaring an impasse, the state agency that handles these requests is likely to send the district and the teachers back to the negotiating table.