California Educator

December/January 2019

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Ba rga i n i n g Ro u n d u p By Cynthia Menzel, Julian Peeples, Ed Sibby and Frank Wells #OurVoiceAtTheTable West Sonoma County: A Strike and a Win Community and parent support, the love of students for their teachers, organizing, and inspiring unity powered the West Sonoma County Teachers Association to a victory after three days on strike in November. Their new contract provides a 12 percent raise over three years, with 8 percent guaranteed over the first two years and the third year contingent on the passage of a parcel tax, along with adjustments to health care benefits and class sizes. During the strike, the community joined teachers in solidarity on the picket lines to urge the board to make teacher retention a priority. "This settlement is a good step in the right direction toward investing in educators and the future of our community," says WSCTA President Lily Smedshammer. Months of negotiations were punctuated by rallies and infor- mational picketing. As the strike approached, West Sonoma County Union High School District attempted to intimidate teachers by filing a series of frivolous lawsuits, even serving Smedshammer with legal documents at her home on a Sat- urday morning. But the legal action backfired, galvanizing the community around their dedicated educators as they refused to back down. "Having the community stand with us in support has been amazing," says Smedshammer. "As we move forward, we will remain strong in our commitment to our students, our col- leagues and our community." Wilmar: Agreement Reached Only two days before a scheduled strike date, Wilmar Teachers Association in Petaluma won an agreement that helps attract and retain qualified educators. WTA organized and won a more than 13 percent pay increase over three years, as well as an increase in the district's medical benefit contribution. The presence and guidance of two school board members in the penultimate bargaining session made all the difference, according to WTA President Janice Garrigan. "They chose to enter negotiations on Tues- day with the two board members we have had relationships with the longest," she says. "This demonstrated to us their sincere and genuine desire to show us what we mean to them, and it did not go unnoticed. Thank you to everyone for helping us get to this place." Redlands: Teachers, ESPs Settle After a year and a half of fruitless nego- tiations, the growing power of Redlands Teachers Association and Redlands Edu- cation Support Professionals Association helped forge a mediated agreement that pro- vides wage and benefit increases, including retroactive pay. Recent months of rallies and instituting work-to-rule paved the way for the settle- ment. RTA and RESPA won a 6 percent raise for last year and this year, as well as a 1.17 percent increase in health benefits, which have gone unadjusted for 18 years. RESPA also negotiated an annual increase to the dis- trict's portion of health and welfare costs. The deal was ratified by both RESPA and RTA, but the extended negotiations took a toll. "We felt like teachers are satisfied for now, but disappointed that it took so long," RTA President Teresa Steinbroner says. 42 Advocacy

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