Huntington Beach : Mediator Unable to Settle Teacher Contract Dispute

After meeting for eight hours with both sides, a state mediator was unable to settle the contract dispute between the Huntington Beach Union High School District and the teachers union.

William Bianchi, executive director of West Orange County United Teachers, said nothing was resolved in Tuesday's discussions with mediator David Hart of the state Conciliation and Mediation Services. Furthermore, Bianchi said, he doubts that an accord will be reached in the next mediation session, set for April 25.

"The issues are so limited we're going to have to do something at the next meeting, (but) we're not optimistic that a settlement is forthcoming," he said.

However, Glen Dysinger, the district's assistant superintendent for administrative services, said both parties agreed to submit formulas for what they consider to be equitable solutions to Hart at the next meeting.

Asked if he thought a settlement could be reached on April 25, Dysinger answered, "We certainly hope so." In any case, "a settlement needs to be done before May 1," he said.

The negotiations between the district and the District Educators Assn., whose 750 members are included in the larger West Orange County United Teachers group, are at a stalemate, with the district offering teachers a 1% salary increase and the teachers holding out for 5%.

Aside from money, Bianchi said a stumbling block in the negotiations is that the union would like all district teachers to have "agency fee" written into their contracts, which means they would either join the association or pay a fee equal to union dues.

Dysinger, however, said agency fee "is not available. Speaking for the Board of Trustees, he said, "At this time that's not the issue being talked about."

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