Capistrano teachers union says district placing negotiation roadblocks [Updated]

Capistrano Unified teachers' union president Vicki Soderberg speaks at a pro-teachers rally on Monday, April 26, 2010.
Capistrano Unified teachers' union president Vicki Soderberg speaks at a pro-teachers rally on Monday, April 26, 2010.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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Members of the Capistrano Unified Education Association (CUEA) ended a third day on strike with a boisterous rally filled with the chants and cheers of nearly 2,000 teachers. Before she closed the rally to the public, teachers’ union president Vicki Soderberg told a packed gymnasium at Saddleback College, “Never in my entire life have I been more proud to be a member of CUEA.” The crowd roared in approval.

Updated 7:10 p.m. | Permalink

Rally leaves Capistrano teachers hopeful over negotiations

Most teachers at the 52,000 student district walked off the job on Thursday. Negotiators for the union and administration sat down for talks that day and through the weekend. In a statement released this morning, a union spokesman said the administration was the main roadblock in negotiations.

However, Tesoro High School English teacher Deanna Gross and others leaving the rally said negotiators characterized talks in a more positive light. “I guess at this point we’re hopeful that there’s some kind of good news at the end of the night and we can get back to the classroom.”

After the rally Soderberg said she’s cautiously optimistic. “We’re looking forward to a settlement. Our bargaining team has been working real hard today. They went back to the table after this rally. They reported to the members they’re making steady progress. However the strike is still on for tomorrow.”

Capistrano Unified administrators said they imposed a permanent 10 percent teacher salary cut to close a large state funding deficit and ensure the solvency of the school district. Teachers’ union leaders said the board of education has been unwilling to negotiate budget cuts with the 2,200-member union. The teachers’ union rallying cry has been to make temporary the permanent salary cut.

Some teachers said it was hard to keep their spirits up on the strike’s third day. Dana Hills High School teacher Mike Weinelle said the rally pumped him up. He echoed many colleagues’ sentiments when asked about the toughest part of being on strike. “Being out of the classroom. Not teaching, that’s what I do for a living. That’s what defines me.”

School district administrators reported a third day of low student attendance districtwide. About a third of students showed up to school today, slightly more than Friday.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

Updated 4:15 p.m. | Permalink

Capistrano teachers say district lacks clear direction
Most teachers at the Capistrano Unified School District are on strike Monday for a third day. Weekend negotiations between the district and teachers union did not lead to an agreement over teacher salary cuts.

For the third day, teachers are picketing outside south Orange County campuses. At the same time, tens of thousands of parents are left with the dilemma of what to do with their school age kids: keep them at home - or send them to classrooms led by substitutes teaching little of the regular curriculum.

Negotiators for the teachers' union and the school district failed to reach an agreement after Saturday and Sunday talks. The union says its principal goal is to make sure a 10 percent salary cut imposed by administrators last month is temporary - not permanent. The union puts the blame on the school district, saying in a statement that the school district's lack of a consistent direction in talks is a roadblock.

The strike is front and center on the minds of state union officials. California Teachers Association President David Sanchez is scheduled to speak later today at a rally in Mission Viejo.