Irvine : Teachers to Cast Ballots on Staying With Union

Irvine's 750 teachers, who staged a one-day strike in February, are to decide today whether they want to stay with their union.

The teachers will vote on continuing to pay fees to the Irvine Teachers Assn. Those fees amount to about $300 a year per teacher, said Dan Saling, executive director of the South Orange County Educators.

The vote is part of a contract agreement reached between the union and the Irvine Unified School District. Teachers are expected to vote on the actual contract in the next few weeks.

Teachers will be deciding on their "agency or representation fee" and not the union shop issue, Saling said. The difference is that a union shop would require all teachers to belong to the union, he said.

Under Irvine's arrangement, teachers who opt out of union membership for "religious beliefs or other reasons" would not be required to pay the fees to the Irvine Teachers Assn., Saling said. But they would have to pay the same amount to one of three charities.

The charities are the Orange County Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Irvine Educational Foundation--the nonprofit, fund-raising arm of the district--and the Fund to Assist California Teachers, a program of emergency aid for teachers, Saling said.

An estimated 600 teachers, or 80% of the faculty, belong to the union. Saling called it "highly unlikely that (fees) would be voted down."

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