California Educator

February/March 2023

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Page 35 of 59

Bargaining Roundup Compiled by Julian Peeples VENTURA: Unity powers contract victory Ventura educators and education support professionals stuck together during a protracted and difficult bargain, winning a contract in December that will help keep Ventura schools strong. After six months of negotiations, Ventura Unified Education Association (VUEA) and Ventura Education Support Pro- fessionals Association (VESPA) ratified an agreement that increases pay by 10 percent on-schedule, includes a 2 per- cent one-time payment and does not include a cap on health insurance. This will help Ventura Unified attract and retain the educators and ESPs their students deserve. The final terms were very close to VUEA's and VESPA's initial proposal — and a long way from the district's initial pro- posal of 1 percent on-schedule and a 3 percent bonus. The locals organized together, holding informational pick- ets and rallies, and even putting a message on a billboard downtown to build support for the people who make Ven- tura schools run. "I'm very happy with the agreement," VESPA President Carol Peek told the Ventura County Star. "It was a long, exhausting process, but I'm very grateful that it's done." IMPERIAL BEACH: Additional supports for students After a lengthy bargain, Southwest Teachers Asso- ciation (SWTA) members won big for teaching and learning conditions in South Bay Union School Dis- trict, reaching a contract agreement in December. The agreement netted educators an 8 percent on-schedule pay increase in January along with 3 percent on-schedule and 2 percent off-schedule in July, raising the minimum salary for a starting educa- tor to $57,000 a year. Educators also won improved staffing ratios for school counselors, a hard cap on special day class enrollment, additional prep time for special education teachers, and improvements to safety language, combo classes and workload for school psychologists. SW TA also won an increase in the district 's health care contribution, as well as an early retire- ment incentive. Members organized throughout the lengthy bar- gain, rallying at school board meetings and building support in their community. #SWTACares 34 Advocacy

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