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La Habra strike ends in litigation A lthough the 225 members of the La Habra Education Association called off their four-day strike and finally returned to their classrooms on Dec. 16, the fight is far from over with the La Habra City School District’s superintendent and board of education. “LHEA members returned to their classrooms with heads held high, knowing we took the high ground with our integrity and dignity intact,” says LHEA President Danette Brown, who leads the teachers in the K-8 el- ementary district located in the north Orange County city of La Habra. “We had hoped to pre- vail through negotiation, but now we are seeking redress through litigation.” LHEA has filed legal motions against the district’s surface bar- gaining, their refusal to provide the association legally required bargaining information, the un- fair multiyear contract imposi- tion, and the illegal withholding of teachers’ salary related to step-and-column and health benefits in the absence of a bar- gained contract. CTA President David A. San- chez wrote to LHEA members during their strike, “I hope you know that by standing up for your profession and by not al- lowing your superintendent and school board to bully you into subservience, you are perhaps teaching your students a lesson in fairness that they might not learn in any other way.” More than 90 percent of LHEA members walked the picket lines or refused to cross them on each of the strike’s four days, and the number of La Habra students attending school during the strike shrank from about 80 percent the first day to barely 50 percent when the strike ended. Parents and community members supportive of the teachers literally took over in a raucous six-hour Dec. 9 school board meeting, citing numer- ous instances of inappropriate behavior by the hired substi- tutes. The board acceded to the parents’ demands that finan- cial experts representing the board and CTA make efforts to craf t a framework within which negotiations between the two bargaining teams might be possible. Following lengthy talks be- tween the financial analysts from Friday until nearly mid- night on Monday, Dec. 13, both analysts agreed that their pro- posed framework offered pa- rameters that should result in a settlement. Bargaining by the teams was set to start Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 3:30 p.m., and in a gesture of good faith, LHEA called off its strike and notified the district that teachers would return to their classrooms be- ginning Tuesday morning. When teachers reported to LEFT: President Danette Brown leads a march of striking LHEA members at a lunchtime rally on the strike’s sec- ond day. 30 California Educator | DECEMBER 2010 • JANUARY 2011 ABOVE: A reporter from Los Ange- les TV station KCBS 2 interviews La Habra Education Association Presi- dent Danette Brown (right) outside Imperial Middle School on the first day of the strike. their work sites for duty, expect- ing to reunite with their stu- dents, the district literally and figuratively slammed the doors in their faces by illegally locking them out and directing them to sign a legal document promis- ing that by gaining entry they were giving up all rights to re- sume their strike. CTA attor- neys assisting LHEA advised the teachers not the sign the documents and requested an in- junction from the California Public Employment Relations Board forbidding the lockout. At the end of the school day on Dec. 14, LHEA members gathered outside the La Habra district office in a rally to cheer their bargaining team at the start of the planned negotiations session, joined by scores of par- ents and numerous Los Angeles CTA photos by Bill Guy

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