March 12, 2013 > Fremont teachers declare bargaining impasse and set protest
Fremont teachers declare bargaining impasse and set protest
Editor's Note: The Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA) released a statement regarding their concerns and absence of a contract with the District. In response, Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) issued a statement posted on the district website (www.fremont.k12.ca.us):
When Fremont Unified School District officials refused to provide adequate proposals to lower class sizes and fairly compensate educators earlier this week, the teachers' union declared a bargaining impasse and is starting to mobilize for a March 13 protest at the school board meeting.
One year of negotiations have gone nowhere in this financially sound district that's hoarding money at a level that is about five times the reserves required by the state.
"Our students are tired of trying to learn in overcrowded classrooms and teachers are fed up with making financial sacrifices with a district that does not respect our dedication," said teacher Brannin Dorsey, president of the 1,600-member Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA). "Enough is enough. Students and educators deserve better treatment than this - especially from a district with reserves like they have."
Dorsey said frustrations are boiling over and that a protest will be held from 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 13, at the district's offices, 4210 Technology Drive, Fremont. Educators will then speak out at the school board meeting at the same location.
The FUDTA bargaining team is seeking class-size maximums of 24 students for K-3 and a staffing ratio of 27:1 for grades 7-12. The district is offering maximums of 29 in kindergarten classes, 30 for grades 1-3, and no relief for all other grades. In Fremont, class sizes are now capped at 30 for K-6 classrooms, but for middle and high schools the cap is actually only a "goal" of 30, on average. The goal is 12 for special education students, but the district wants to raise that. High school classes routinely reach 35 students or more. Teachers have filed scores of grievances to lower class sizes.
The 32,000-student Fremont Unified has about $30 million in reserves. Educators have taken 12 unpaid furlough days since 2009 - a pay cut of about $7.2 million. In contract talks, FUDTA is seeking a 2 percent raise on the salary schedule and a one-time 1 percent payment, and some relief for the cost of dental benefits. The district is offering a 1 percent salary increase and a one-time bonus payment of 1.75 percent, and no relief for the escalating cost of health care.
Teachers point out how hard they worked to pass the governor's Proposition 30 tax revenue measure in November, which will benefit the district. They also are frustrated that the district refuses to invest adequately in its educators, but is hiring consultants and new attorneys, and is planning a school bond campaign. Educators were also the driving force in passing the district's Measure K parcel tax in 2010, which generates about $3 million a year.
The Fremont Unified District Teachers Association is affiliated with the 325,000-member California Teachers Association and the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.
For more information visit, www.fudta.org
Fremont Unified School District Response:
FUDTA is proposing contract language which would prohibit the District now and in the future to exceed "Hard" class size caps and maximums regardless of the District's and State's fluctuating economic situation. The District proposed to maintain current contract language that obligates the District to exercise reasonable efforts to not exceed maximum class size goals.
The District informed FUDTA that it plans to recommend to the Board a transition plan to reduce class size over the next seven years. The Governor's Proposal (not yet approved by the Legislature and signed into law), will make additional monies available to Districts over the next seven years. Therefore, the District is basing all financial decisions based upon the current funding law. The District has proposed to re-open compensation negotiations in each of the next two years after additional funding information is known.
Over the course of negotiations, FUDTA and FUSD have tentatively agreed on many articles (topics of negotiation) which include: Additional Required Times (40 Hours); Evaluation Procedures; Effects of Layoffs; School Calendar; Appendix E/Technology Assessment Coordinator; Peer Assistance and Review (PAR); and Selection of Department Chairperson.
At the end of the March 5 negotiation session, FUDTA and FUSD have not agreed upon the following articles (topics of negotiation): Transfers; Compensation Package which includes Salary; Counselors; Nurses; Class Size and Term of Agreement; and Children of Unit Members.
Impasse means negotiations have reached a point where FUDTA believes the differences in positions are so substantial that future meetings would be futile. FUDTA has declared its most recent proposals to be its official "Last Best Offer(s)," meaning they have no further movement to make. The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) will evaluate and decide whether an impasse exists once a "Written Request" by FUDTA is submitted. The District believes continued negotiations would bring additional agreements. At the Wednesday March 13 Board Meeting, discussions will occur regarding class size and counseling support. The District must also negotiate with its other employee groups, which include its classified membership (CSEA and SEIU) and its management association (FSMA).
Additional information is available at FUSD website: www.fremont.k12.ca.us