Tustin’s schools face opening day Monday with the possibility of a teacher strike.
The Tustin Educators Assn., the union for the 424 teachers in the Tustin Unified School District, will meet Thursday afternoon to decide if teachers will boycott opening-day classes because of lack of a formal contract for last year and the current school year.
Maurice Ross, superintendent of Tustin Unified, said Tuesday: “We hope there’s no strike, but we’re as prepared as we can be. We have plenty of substitutes, and school will open and there will be learning.”
Could Last Several Days
If there is a strike Monday, it could extend for several days, said Sandy Banis, president of the union.
“I would imagine if we go out, we’ll be out for a while,” she said. “One-day strikes sometimes don’t accomplish much.”
Banis, however, stressed that no decision had been reached and that any action must be decided by the mass teachers’ meeting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church of Tustin. “We already have authorization for a strike,” Banis noted. “The teachers gave us that authorization last year.”
Raises a Key Issue
Teachers have been at odds with the Tustin school board and Ross for more than a year. The inability to reach agreement on a contract last year revolved around the school board’s assertion that it couldn’t afford a cost-of-living pay raise for the teachers.
The school board and teachers’ union negotiators in early June tentatively agreed on a retroactive 1984-85 contract that would have given the teachers an average 3.85% raise for having worked longer school days during a longer school year, as required by the state. The teachers, however, on June 10 voted down the proposal, 170 to 45, because it didn’t contain a cost-of-living adjustment.
‘Just Can’t Go On’
“Our last contract with the school district expired in June, 1984,” said Banis on Tuesday. “Our teachers feel this just can’t go on for another year.”
She said an alternative to a strike on Monday might be a decision by the teachers to set a strike date for later in the school year.
The 725 teachers in the Huntington Beach Union High School District also face the start of school Monday without contracts for either last year or the coming year. But Gerald Tolman, president of the teachers’ union, the District Educators Assn., said Tuesday no strike is being planned.
School Board Elections
Tolman said the teachers are unhappy about the lack of a formal contract. He said a major focus of the union this fall will be on replacing three of the five school board members at the November elections with candidates backed by the union. “That’s our ace in the hole,” he said.
The Huntington Beach Union High School District teachers are seeking a pay raise in excess of the 3% cost-of-living offer made by the school board just before the end of school last spring.
The teachers are also asking for binding arbitration (required settlement by a neutral third party) in labor disputes and for “agency fees,” or payment by all teachers of the equivalent amount for the union’s representation of them.