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Negotiations

Updated: February, 2014

"Negotiations" is one of the steps in the collective bargaining process adopted in 1975 legislation Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) . Each step is further explained in this negotiations overview along with a pictoral representation. Edsource published this eight page overview on collective bargaining also.

In Alameda, the teachers are represented by Alameda Education Association, a local affiliate of the California Teachers Association and National Education Association. The major negotiation cycles are tied to three year contracts. The 2003 Negotiations ended in June, 2004. The 2006 Negotiations began in Spring, 2006. The 2006 negotiations ended June, 2007. The 2009 Negotiations began in Spring, 2009 amd the initial sunshining of articles was covered in this Alameda Sun article.

In Alameda, the classified staff is represented by California School Employees Association (CSEA). The three year contract effective June 30, 2005, was approved in February, 2006.

In Alameda, the maintenance and janitorial staff were represented by Local One. The four year contract effective June 30, 2003, was approved in September, 2004. In 2008, the maintenance and janitorial staff changed representation to CSEA.

While unions will disavow the existence of a negotiations cookbook, there is a document which unions do use a blueprint for negotiations. In California, the unions still refer to a document produced  in 2000 by the California Teachers Association for negotiations. In addition, CTA has produced a more recent document which outlines CTA's position on number of issues.

Under existing law, unions are allowed to distribute updates regarding negotiations using school mail boxes. With assistance from the California Teachers Association, four school districts teacher unions have file suit to expand what can be distribute into mailbox. The union wants to distribute election related materials.

After four years of severe budget reductions, statewide school district negotiations have been challenging. The most common settlement option has been the yearly approval of furlough days in anticipation of proposed/actual budget cuts to K-12 education. Unions and districts who have not been able to agree on cost cutting measures end up in fact finding before the Board has decide whether or not to impose their last and final offer. Increasingly, school districts have been able to demonstrate the inability to sustain current expenditures and fact finding reports are supporting the districts.

AUSD Salary Schedule as of January 1, 2008

Teacher Negotiations - 2012

At the January 10, 2012 Board meeting both parties presented their proposals to open articles for a new contract. Until an agreement is reached, the existing contract will be in effect. The Alameda Education Association opened 27 articles including the addition of a new article called Academic Freedom. The Alameda Unified School District opened seven articles.

After ten negotiation sessions, AUSD submitted a proposal for wages and benefits. At the end of the tenth session, AEA indicated they would be submitting a request to PERB to declare impasse. Here is the AEA Press Release, AEA Explanation of AUSD's proposal and AEA Impasse explanation. After one negotiation session in February, AEA requested another determination from PERB and they indicated the sides were at impasse. PERB agreed both sides were at impasse. Prior to impasse hearings, Assembly Member Rob Bonta was get both sides together and develop a tentative agreement. The tentative agreement was approved by both the union and school board.

Teacher Negotiations - 2009/11

An MOU was approved in 2009 in place of a contract. The MOU established conditions contingent upon the approval of a parcel tax in 2010. The 2010 parcel tax failed in June, 2010. As a result furlough days were implemented in 2009/10 school year. A new parcel tax passed in March 2011. New negotiations began to finalize MOU language into the contract that ends in June, 2012. For most of 2011, AEA do not want to discuss the MOU as they felt the passage of parcel tax meant the status quo should be maintained in the contract. AUSD wanted class size language changed to avoid fiscal issues in 2013. Both parties were declared at impasse in November, 2011 and a mediator was appointed. AUSD issued this press release. In April, a tentative agreement was developed. However the union membership did not approve the agreement. In May,2012 the two parties conducted a fact finding hearing.

At the January 27, 2009 BOE meeting the Alameda Education Association presented their sunshine openers for the contract. They requested that the contract be extended one year through June, 2010 with no changes to wages and benefits or language in the contract.

At the February 24, 2009 BOE meeting Alameda Unified School District presented their sunshine openers for the contract.

In 2010, AUSD and AEA agreed to a MOU which increased class size for K-3 to 25:1. With ongoing state fiscal problems, AUSD determined that the MOU language for 25:1 K-3 class size needed to made permanent in contract language. After months of negotiations the two parties could not agree to changes to the contract. After meditation and a rejected tentative agreement, both parties engaged in fact finding.  In the fact finding report, the committee unanimously agreed that MOU language should be extended until successor language for the 2012-15 contract is resolved. Subsequently both parties met and agreed to extend the MOU class size language.  

 

CSEA Negotiations - 2008

At the January 22, 2008 BOE Meeting, CSEA presented their reopeners. for a new contract.

At the February 12, 2008 BOE Meeting, District presented their reopeners. for a new contract.

2006 Negotiations

Teacher Negotiations - 2006

June, 2007

on June 15, the District issued a summary of the tentative agreement for the ten day review period prior to the June 26th BOE meeting.

In a Letter to the Editor Lincoln Middle teachers voice their opinion to the Board of Education.

In a Alameda Sun Letter to the Editor Earl Rivard's respond to Paul Mahler letter. The Alameda Sun covered employee reaction to the tentative agreement and publish an editorial titled Teachers Deserve a Living Wage.

On June 11, Earl Rivard, President of AEA, issued a letter to the AUSD Board of Education, Ardella Dailey, Superintendent and Brandon Krueger, Chief Negotiatior titled: Tentative Agreement Ratification.

On June 8, the District issued a Fact Sheet of how the tentative agreement would impact a teacher salary over the term of the contract.

On June 7, the District issued the following communications to its employees:

We are pleased to announce that Alameda Education Association membership voted last night, with an 85% affirmative vote, to ratify a new 3-year employment contract for teachers effective July 1, 2006. The terms of the contract include 0% in the current year (2006-2007), a 2% raise in 2007-2008, (1% raise effective July 1, 2007, and 1% raise effective January 1, 2008) and a 4% raise in 2008-2009 (3% raise effective July 1, 2008, and 1% increase toward Health and Welfare benefits effective December 1, 2008).

The next step in the contract ratification process is final approval by the Board of Education. A summary of the proposed contract terms will be presented at the June 12 meeting and the Board will vote at the June 26 meeting. Updates will be available on our district web site and notification will go out to employee group leadership for further communiciation.

As with all compensation (salary and benefits) increases negotiated, the terms of this new 3-year agreement with regard to raises will be implemented equitably for all Alameda Unified School District employees. Other employee group leaders will be contacted and asked to facilitate a process to determine the distribution of the compensation increases for their membership. The Fiscal Services and Human Resources will work together to provide all employees with a detailed summary of the agreement and how to calculate the impact on individual salaries.

We are very grateful for the hard work and commitment to our employees, by both negotiating teams, AEA members, Board of Education, the AUSD Executive Cabinet, district management, and community, that has brought us to this point in the process.

Alameda Journal reports on the teacher approval of the contract on June 7.

KCBS reports on the ongoing vote by the teachers on June 6, 2007. Alameda Sun also reports on the ongoing teacher vote.

May, 2007

In a Alameda Sun Letter to the Editor Paul Mahler counters Earl Rivard's letter from 5/17. The Alameda Journal covered the announcement of the tentative agreement.

On May 29th, AUSD issued the following communuication to its employees:

As of about 8:00p.m. on Friday, May 25, AUSD and AEA reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract effective July 1, 2006 and continuing through June 30, 2009. At this point, AEA is making arrangements with its membership to proceed with a ratification process, scheduled to take place within the next week. If the AEA membership ratifies the tentative agreement, the Superintendent would then make a recommendation for approval to the Board of Education.

The Alameda Sun recapped the teacher demonstration at the May 24th BOE meeting. The Alameda Journal also covered the teacher demonstration at the May 24th BOE meeting. In addition, the Alameda Journal published a Guest Commentary by Ann Casper titled: Alameda must provide fair wage to teachers.

The Alameda Sun recapped the first mediation sesson in the May 17th issue. In the same issue, AEA President Earl Rivard sent a letter to the Editor titled: Where's the Support?. President Rivard also sent a Letter to the Editor for the Alameda Journal titled: Money talks, except for AUSD.

On May 16, Brandon Krueger issed the following statement via District Email:

First mediation session with AEA is productive, collaborative
The bargaining teams for the district and the Alameda Education Association (AEA) met with the neutral state mediator for eight hours on Thursday, May 10. The session was productive and collaborative as both parties reviewed their positions and background information with the mediator. A second mediation session has been scheduled for Friday, May 25.

The Alameda Sun and Alameda Journal covered teacher rallies as mediation starts.

The District issues an informational letter on base revenue limit funding.

AEA President Earl Rivard sent a letter to AEA members titled: Complexities and Subtleties that responds to parent concerns about AEA informational practices.

April, 2007

On April 18, the State Mediation and Conciliation Service has appointed Seymour Kramer as Mediator to work with AUSD and AEA in the mediation stage of impasse.

The initial (orientation) meeting with the mediator is set for Thursday, May 10.

On April 13, PERB issued a determination (received by AUSD on April 16) that impasse exists between AUSD and AEA and that a mediator will be assigned to work with the parties.

  • PERB has contacted the State Mediation and Conciliation Service (SMCS) to assign a mediator.
  • AUSD is looking forward to working with the assigned mediator who will facilitate a process intended to assist in both parties coming to a tentative agreement.
  • If a mediator determines that both teams are still unable to reach a tentative agreement, the teams move to a fact finding process. In fact finding, a representative from each negotiating team and a neutral fact finding party work through a process with the intention of reaching a tentative agreement.

On April 5, AEA filed request for impasse from the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) .

AEA President Earl Rivard sent a letter to the Board of Education titled: A Question of Simple Justice and a letter to Superintendent Dailey titled: Your Three R's.

The Alameda Sun and Alameda Journal published news article about teacher's request for a declaration of impasse. Meanwhile other school districts struggle to meet union demands for salary and benefits increases as this San Francisco Chronicle news article points out. The Alameda Times published news article about the declaration of impasse.

March, 2007

The District issued a press release detailing AEA intent to request impasse from the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB). A ruling is expected in April. In addtion, the District issued its March 2007 update.

The Alameda Sun published a news article about negotiations.

AEA provides its members Negotiations Update dated March 1st. AEA members receive a letter dated March 5th, from their president, Earl Rivard.

February, 2007

AEA provides its members with a funding update as well as a pop quiz and a Negotiations Update.

The District issued its February 2007 update on their website.

January, 2007

The District issued its January 2007 update on their website.

December 2006

District Communications sent December 4, 2006

The District issued its December 06 update on their website.

Representatives from the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) and the Alameda Education Association (AEA) are in the process of negotiating a new employment contract, retroactive to July 1, 2006. AUSD and AEA negotiating teams have met four times so far during the school year: September 20, October 5, October 20, and November 14.

From now on, following each negotiation session, the District will provide an update on the status of proposals made by the District to the Alameda Education Association.

The first District Negotiations Bulletin begins with November 2006 attached. The November Bulletin includes the District's Core Values, developed by the Board of Education and the Executive Cabinet, in order to provide a guiding foundation for the decision-making process used by the negotiating team.

Negotiations Bulletins will also be availabe on the District website, www.alameda.k12.ca.us under the link, Negotations Updates.

February 2006

Contract negotiations between the District and the Alameda Education Assocation (AEA), begins when each side submits their initial proposals for public input.

At the February 14th Meeting, both sides presented joint openers. This is a dramatic shift from past practice where the opener process was done separately. The Board accepted the openers.

At the April 11th Meeting, the District requested Article 10 - Transfers be added to negotiations. The Board approved the request.

CSEA Negotiations - 2006

At the February 28th Meeting, a new three year contract effective June 1, 2005 was approved by the Board.

2003/04 Negotiations

Teacher Negotiations - 2003/04

Contract negotiations between the District and the Alameda Education Assocation (AEA), begins when each side submits their initial proposals for public input.

At the March 11th 2003 Meeting, , AEA's initial proposals were approved by the Board. AEA did not provided any additional information about what they hoped to accomplish in negotiations.

At the May 13th 2003 Meeting BOE meeting, District's initial proposals were approved by the Board. The District provided additional rationale why they were reopening specific parts of the contract.

The teacher's union requested to negotiate 11 articles and the administration requested to negotiate 17 articles, with 10 being the same. So there are a total of 18 articles to negotiate. Due to fiscal uncertainity of the state budget, the administation's position on any articles having fiscal impact need to be negotiated together rather article by article.

On July 1, 2003 the current AEA Contract expired. Until a new contract is signed, the expired contract remains in effect.

During the 2003 summer months, no meetings were held because the teacher's negotiations team was on vacation.

March 2007 Update

AUSD will add an .8% increase to employee salaries as a result of finalizing calculations for the 3.9% salary increase already implemented last November. The additional increase will cost an additional $440,000 per year, and will be taken out of the 3% reserve fund required for economic uncertainties. This amount was provided for in the Spending Reduction and Resource Allocation Plan approved by the board on February 27 and therefore no additional budget reallocations are needed.

The original 3.9% salary increase was based on a formula agreed to in the 2003-2006 contract with the Alameda Education Association (AEA), that stipulated that 66% of unrestricted district revenue, less expenditures, would determine the funds available for a teacher salary increase in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. However, AUSD and AEA differed on the interpretation of what counts as unrestricted revenue and what counts as expenditures towards salary, delaying the increase until the differences could be settled by a state arbitrator last July.

In August, in order to expedite the salary increase and retroactive pay for all employees, AUSD and AEA agreed to a 3.9% estimated increase, with the understanding that the final calculation would be made once the district received an audit of its actual fund balances for the end of the fiscal year.

Based on the final report of "audited actuals," AUSD and AEA have agreed to a 4.7% total increase. The .8% increase, including retroactive pay, will be added to employee paychecks in April 2007. As with all salary increases the district negotiates, the increase is implemented equitably to all employee groups in the district.

August 2006 Update

  • In July 2006 an arbitrator ruling resulted in 3.9% annual salary raise to 2005/06 school year. The ongoing cost of the ruling is $2.1 million a year. As a result, the revised budget presented at the 8/8 BOE Meeting showed a $1,400,000 in deficit for 2006/07 fiscal year. Board Member McMahon commented on the arbitration ruling.
  • Earl Rivard, President, AEA responded with a letter to Board Member McMahon.

March 2005 Update

  • On March 1, 2005 the Alameda Education Association and Alameda Unified School District signed a settlement agreement for the four ourstanding unfair labor complaints.

June 2004 Update

  • At the Special June 29th BOE meeting, the Board of Education approved the new teacher contract for 2003-2006.
  • At the June 23rd BOE meeting, the Board of Education conducted the first of two public hearings on the tentative agreement. The Board reviewed the major provisions of the agreement for fiscal implications as well as language changes.
  • On June 18th, the District sent out a press release announcing that the teacher have ratified the tentative agreement.
  • In the June 17th Alameda Sun news article "Teacher Vote on New Contract", the following details were disclosed: "Under the proposed contract, teacher who qualify for family coverage will receive $586.43 per month and those who have two party coverage will receive $492.97 per month, beginning January, 2005 - a definite increase from the $370 the teachers are currently receiving in monthly benfits. Also preparation time will be self-directed by the teachers, at their own discretion."
  • At the June 9th Board of Education meeting, Alameda Education Association president Glenda McDowell announced that a tentative agreement has been reached with Alameda Unified School District . The next step in the process is a teachers vote at Alameda High School on June 15th.
  • The fourth negotiation session facilitated by the state appointed mediator took place on June 3rd and lasted until 3am on June 4th.

May 2004 Update

  • There were four teachers who addressed the Board of Education at the May 25th Board meeting.
  • Headlines from around state show discouraging state of many school districts
  • There were two teachers who addressed the Board of Education at the May 11th Board meeting.
  • On May 6th, the AEA Core Team Action announces the following actions are taking place to show support AEA's negotiating team:
    1. Lincoln - Work to Rule everyday
    2. Lum - Work to Rule Tuesday and Thursdays, informational picketing and leafleting
    3. Washington - Work to Rule Tuesdays and Fridays, leafleting parents
    4. Franklin - Leafleting parents Thursday mornings
    5. Island - Writing letters to board members and the local papers
    6. Paden - Leafleting parents Thursday mornings

April 2004 Update

  • There were two teachers who addressed the school board at the April 26th meeting.
  • AEA President Glenda McDowell addressed the school board and indicated that the next two negotiation sessions are scheduled for May 17th and May 26th.
  • Quotes from April 22nd Alameda Sun by Glenda McDowell, AEA President regarding the first mediated negiatation session:
    • I do know that the mediator really looks at both sides. The mediator will grab both of us (AEA and AUSD) by the heads and make us come to an understanding.
    • I'm hoping we could get our proposals through. It might be one or a couple. It just depends. The last time the district and teachers were at this point it was one issue. This time it is many.
    • We definitely don't want to get to that point of striking, we want to get this done.
  • The first negotiation session with the state appointed mediator took place at Wind River on April 20th.
  • 100 to 125 teachers rallied at District Offices on April 20th, singing songs and carrying signs in support of union negotiators.
  • There were four speakers who spoke on negotiations at the April 6th Board meeting.
  • The Public Employees Relations Board appoints a mediatator for negotiations between the teacher's union and the District. The first session will be held the week of April 19th.
  • On April 1, approximately 100 teachers rally at the District offices and then proceed to Park Street to pass out support literature to local businesses.

March 2004 Update

  • There were six speakers who spoke on negotiations at the March 23rd Board meeting. One speaker indicated that the District was grossly overstating the costs of AEA's proposals. In addition, agenda items regarding possible Golden Handshake agreements with classified and certificated employees were pulled from the agenda based on initial objections from the Alameda County Office of Education.
  • At a March 18th District Office rally of approximately 125 teachers, union representatives stated they intend to file an unfair labor complaint against the District.
  • At the March 18th negotiations session, both sides in the teacher contract negotiations have declared impasse . The Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) will assign a mediatator to negotiations.
  • AEA issued a number of flyers in order to encourage teachers to picket at District Offices on March 18th at 3:30pm:
  • There were three speakers from the teacher's union who spoke on negotiations at the March 9th Board meeting . Susan Gill from Alameda High School, requested unencumbered prep time be included in the new contract. Glenda McDowell, AEA President, pointed that the contract expired over 250 days ago and the teacher were paying up to $400 a month for health care coverage for family coverage. She further stated that teachers would gain respect if the contract provided for the passing on of monies from the state for wages, health care coverage and changes to prep time. Jeff Smith from Encinal High School, did not want unencumbered prep time taken away and would like to see the union proposal to redesignate sick days as personal days. The three speakers were supported by crowd of approximately a dozen teachers.
  • In preparation for a show of unity at the March 9th Board meeting, signed postcards urging the Board to direct the District negotiation team to reslove issues regarding health benefits, prep time and working conditions. I received approximately 220 signed postcards.

February 2004 Update

  • Two negotiations sessions (number 10,11) held in February
  • At the February 3rd meeting tentative agreement was reached on Article 9 to leave the article status quo
  • No further agreements were reached in either session
  • Further discussion on an early retirement proposal was held with a proposal being to the County Office for review

January 2004 Update

  • One negotiations session held in January with the second session cancelled awaiting PERB decision
  • At the end of the January 6th negotiation session the AEA negotiation team indicated they would request that the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) determine if negotiations were at impasse.
  • On January 22nd, PERB indicated that both sides should continue to negotiate without a mediatator.
  • Initial cost estimates of AEA's contract proposals are over $5 million.
  • To date, a total of 65-70 hours where the two negotiations teams were in face to face meetings. Approximately half of the time was spent on the calendar and AB 1207 discussions.

December 2003 Update

  • Two negotiations sessions were held in December
  • At the December 9th BOE meeting, AEA President Glenda McDowell presented the following information: A late submission of the Encincal High School votes and mismatch of the number of ballots versus the number of teacher signatures from Alameda High School precluded AEA from using approximately 150 potential ballots. With those sites excluded, by a vote 118 YES and 195 NO the calendar proposal did not pass. The vote from the high school would not have changed outcome had they been included. Glenda was not able to offer any definitive reason why the membership did not pass the calendar proposal as she indicated that she "did not know what the membership wanted". Potential concerns centered around the lack of a October break and choppy Winter Break in 2005/06 and 2006/07 calendar.

    After discussion about potential courses of action, the Board decided to separate the calendar proposal into a one year calendar proposal for 2004/05. The Board voted 5-0 to "approve" (not adopt) the 2004/05 Calendar. The Board recognizes that both parties have to agree to a calendar proposal. It was hoped that by taking this action, AEA leadership will take the one year calendar proposal back to its membership for a vote.

  • AEA promptly responded to the Board action with two additional calendar options at the December 16th negotiation session
  • In response to a question from Member Gibson about the impact of AB1207 on the financial solvency of the District, Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo Legaspi indicated guidelines from Alameda County of Education regarding AB1200 requirements make AB1207 too expensive for the District. He further only three school districts had approached the County for guidance and no other District is seriousily considering adopting AB1207 in the 2+2 format.
  • Discussions on Articles 5, 8, 9, 17, 27 and 28 held
  • Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 28 are introduced by AUSD
  • AEA Core Action Team Website is created
  • AUSD Negotiations Webpage is created
  • Copy of Dec 13th EMail sent by me to the Alameda community
  • Comments received by me from the Alameda community regarding teacher negotiations

November 2003 Update

  • Two meetings were held
  • Discussions on AB1207 (Golden Handshake legislation) continue
  • Discussions on Article 8 and 9
  • Articles 12 and 13 are introduced by AEA

October 2003 Update

  • Two meetings were held
  • Katie Lyons has been added to the District negotiation team
  • Janet MacNamee has been added to the AEA negotiation team
  • Discussions centered on the calendar
  • AEA Executive and Rep Councils agrees to the proposed calendar before the negotiations team signs the tentative agreement
  • On October 21 a tentative agreement on three year calendar proposal was reached
  • At the October 29th BOE meeting, Chief Personnel Officer Stan Rose reported that "In response to public interest to achieve a multi-year calendar, we have got our arms around a mutually agreeable proposal that I think you will like."
  • Discussions on AB1207 (Golden Handshake legislation) has started
  • Discussions on Article 8 continue and agreement on Article 23 is reached
  • Tentative agreement reached on Article 23

September 2003 Update

  • Two meetings were held
  • Meetings schedule have been established for the remainder of the school year
  • The meeting schedule identified there would be two meetings a month, with location alternating between District offices and California Teachers Association (CTA) offices in Union City
  • The initial teacher negotiations team consists of Joy Sigmon, Chief Negotiator, Glenda McDowell, Mary Ellen Bell, Earl Rivard, Jeni Marr and Denise Ratto, Diane Lisi, CTA District Rep
  • The initial District negotiations team consists of Dave Nied, Chief Negotiator, Dave Dierking, Mary McGuinness, Judy Goodwin, Margie Sherratt and Stan Rose
  • The development of the calendar took a majority of the time while AEA presented a partial proposal on Article 8

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CSEA Negotiations 2004/05CSEA Negotiations 2003/04

CSEA Negotiations 2003/04

The three year contract between the District and CSEA expires on June 30, 2005.

CSEA presented their reopeners at the June 28th meeting.

A tentative agreement for a new three year contract has been approved in early Janaury, 2006.

CSEA Negotiations 2003/04

Reopener negotiations between the District and the California School Employees Association (CSEA) is allowed under the contract on an annual basis. The scope of negotiations is limited to specific sections of the contract. If either side wants to negotiate they submit their initial proposals for public input.

CSEA's initial proposals and District's initial openers for CSEA were approved by the Board in August, 2003.

In 2005, statewide CSEA elections may determine the direction of this union.

July 2004 Update

June 2004 Update

  • Tentative agreement was reached on June 18, 2004

February 2004 Update

  • Discussions continue to progress as both sides explore alternative methods to meets their needs

November 2003 Update

  • One meeting was held
  • Don Sherratt and Nancy Weaver conducted one day training on Interest Based Bargaining

October 2003 Update

  • One meeting was held
  • CSEA negotiations team consists of Christina Fong, CSEA Rep, Theresa Tenorio, Karen Keegan, Cindy Zecher, Vickie Levitich and Patti Cummings
  • District negotiations team consists of Stan Rose, Valerie Williams, Jane Baldi, Niel Tam, and Bob DeLuca
  • A review of CFIER protocols was done

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Local One Negotiations

Negotiations between the District and the Public Employees Union Local One will begin after both sides submit their openers.

Local One's initial openers were received at public hearing at the March 23rd Board meeting.

District's initial openers were received at public hearing at the June 23rd Board meeting.

September 2004 Update

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ACSA Negotiations

Negotiations between the District and the Association of California School Administrators were conducted in September 2004.

The Association of California School Administrators, Alameda Chapter (ACSA) and the Alameda Unified School District have a "meet and confer" working relationship that is memorialized in a memorandrum of understanding. A new tentative agreement would extend the agreement to June 30, 2006.

September 2004 Update

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Teacher union seeks mail access

Union wants to use slots provided by districts for endorsements before elections

By Shirley Dang, Hayward Daily Review, November 28, 2006

In a debate that pits electioneering laws against free speech, California's largest union has launched a legal battle to permit political endorsement on public grounds.

State law ensures teachers unions the right to spread the word on contract negotiations and grievances using campus mailboxes. However school districts typically ban partisan politics from the rectangular receptacles, to the chagrin of unions.

"We view that as censorship," said Priscilla Winslow, assistant chief counsel for the California Teacher Association.

In conjunction with local union affiliates, CTA has filed four unfair labor charges with the state Public Employee Relations Board over restrictions on teacher mailboxes, long considered off-limits to election endorsements. In Contra Costa County, the Mt. Diablo Education Association turned in a complaint earlier this month. Teachers in Long Beach and Yuba City schools made similar charges.

A legal complaint stemming from San Leandro has wound its way to the state Court of Appeal, where the case is pending.

If union lawyers successfully reshape the reading of the law surrounding teacher mailboxes, the CTA could gain significant political advantage by creating a legal way to influence its 340,000 members where they work.

But, "when it comes down to it, is this really a proper use of a school mailbox?" said Garry Mathiason, attorney for the San Leandro school district.

The Mt. Diablo Education Association, which is affiliated with CTA, filed a charge with the labor board Nov. 13. The board is a quasi-judicial agency that makes decisions in labor disputes. The Mt. Diablo teachers union claims the district violated the Educational Employment Relations Act when it barred teachers from distributing campaign material into teacher boxes and demanded teachers move cars off campus if they displayed endorsement signs. Administrators did not object when the union supported passing a school construction bond, said Mark York, executive director of the education association, or endorsed candidates in prior school board elections.

"We're not doing anything different than we've ever done," York said.

Lawyers for the state labor board will review the labor charge to decide whether it has merit. The district has a chance to respond by mid-December.

"We will vigorously oppose the unfair practice charge," said Greg Rolen, in-house lawyer for the Mt. Diablo school district. "The state of the law as it stands is currently in our favor."

The state labor board has historically sided with school districts, citing Education Code statutes that prohibit public school funds, services, supplies or equipment from being used to promote a candidate or measure.

However teachers unions are calling that reading of the law into question by taking its complaints from the labor board to the courtroom.

After the labor board dismissed labor charges by the San Leandro Teachers Association in 2005, CTA petitioned Alameda County Superior Court to review the mailbox complaint through the lens of free speech protections.

In May 2006, Judge Winifred Smith ruled in favor of the union, citing the California Constitution.

"Barring speech simply because it is political is prohibited as a content-based restriction," Smith wrote.

According to Smith, the labor board and school districts have misread the Education Code governing public funds and campaigning. The statute was designed to prevent school districts from using public money on endorsements, Smith argued. If unions produce and distribute partisan fliers on their own time, little to no public money has been spent.

"Here, the 'use' of public funds is nominal, at best," Smith writes. "The mailboxes exist. There is no cost or use of public resources over and above the normal costs of the mailboxes which is incurred by the District on account of SLTA's use of the mailboxes."

Mathiason, lawyer for the San Leandro school district, said since relatively few have access to school mailboxes, the district has a legal right  and obligation  to monitor the contents.

The union contends that labor law grants unions special access to mailboxes, meaning the district cannot call the shots on what messages get through.

"It's our soapbox," Winslow said, "and we maintain that we can say anything on that soapbox."

School Board Lays Foundation for Future Contract Negotiations

By Dennis Evanosky, Alameda Sun, February 26, 2009

After contentious discussion between the school board and the district's teachers and among board members themselves, the Alameda Unified School District board of trustees voted 3-2 to accept the district's sunshine proposals. This paves the way to open contract negotiations between the district and the teacher's union, the Alameda Education Association.

After contentious discussion between the school board and the district's teachers and among board members themselves, the Alameda Unified School District board of trustees voted 3-2 to accept the district's sunshine proposals. This paves the way to open contract negotiations between the district and the teacher's union, the Alameda Education Association.

Sunshine proposals mark the first step in contract negotiations. AUSD's sunshine proposals inform the teachers' union what issues its negotiators can expect to see on the table once negotiations begin.

The board accepted AEA's sunshine proposals at its Jan. 27 meeting. The teachers, whose contract expires June 30, proposed a one-year contract with the same level of salary and benefits and other terms and conditions in the teacher's 2006-09 contract.

Among the issues AUSD brought out in the open are class size and its relationship to flexibility and cost, early retirement programs and line-item pay for release time for the teachers' union president.

Superintendent Kirstin Vital opened the discussion by pointing out that the district is living on one-time funds for ongoing expenses. Costs are up and income is down, she pointed out, saying that her argument is with the state of California, not with AEA. She also pointed out that the district is in litigation. "This is not about performance; it's about lack of funds," she said.

AEA president Patricia Sanders questioned the board's proposal to increase the student-teacher ratio to as high as 30 to 1. She pointed out small class size was a "Measure H commitment," referring to campaign promises made during the campaign to pass the measure last June.

Sanders asked Vital and the school board why they are asking the lowest-paid members of the district's staff to shoulder the burden. She pointed out that the line item amount for her release time as union president is 25 percent less that the pay increase that the board gave Vital (more than the retiring superintendent) when she signed on.

Sanders also questioned the money the district spends on attorneys involved in contract negotiations. She pointed to the guaranteed pay raises the district's executives receive when the district's teachers have no such guarantee.

Board member Trish Spencer did not feel that the board had enough information to properly decide if it should accept the district's sunshine proposals. She and board member Niel Tam cast the dissenting votes.

Spencer pointed to the lack of transparency in the district's proposals. She said the district is not clearly explaining that it plans to cut music, physical education and the media center. Spencer questioned why the district seeks to balance its budget on the backs of its teachers. The secret is not small schools, she said, paraphrasing Microsoft founder Bill Gates. "The secret is our teachers."

Board president Mike McMahon voted with board vice-president Ron Mooney and board member Tracy Lynn Jensen to approve the proposals.

"I want to approve the sunshining with the understanding that this is the first step," McMahon said before the vote was taken. "I want to get to a place where the contract rolls to December when we have a master plan."

He pointed out that funding options might change on May 19.Voters go to the polls May 19 to vote on propositions that back funding for the recently passed state budget.

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Last modified: February, 2009

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