Tustin : Teachers Accept 3-Year Pact; Board Votes Today

Four months after a six-day, district-wide teacher walkout, instructors in Tustin Unified School District on Friday overwhelmingly approved a three-year contract by a 200-37 vote.

If the contract is also approved, as expected, by the Tustin school board this morning, the two-year struggle for an acceptable pact for the teachers will be over. The teachers' last contract expired June 30, 1984.

Money was the key issue in the six-day strike in October by the teachers. And while some teachers at a mass meeting Friday said they were still unhappy with the pay offer, they acknowledged that it was better than what was offered when they went on strike.

The new contract gives no pay increase for 1984-85 but awards a 10% hike for the current school year, retroactive to September. The contract provides a 6% pay raise for next school year.

The contract also gives the teachers binding arbitration--the ability to submit a grievance to a third, neutral party, whose decision must be accepted by both sides. Teachers at the mass meeting at A. G. Currie Intermediate School loudly applauded this concession from the school board.

Last September, the school board broke off negotiations with the union, the Tustin Educators Assn., after making what it called its "final offer." That offer was for no pay raise for 1984-85; an 8.2% salary hike for the current school year, and "not less than 4%" for next school year.

The school board last fall also firmly rejected the union's demand for binding arbitration.

Teachers, during the strike, were demanding a 6.3% pay raise for 1984-85 and an 8.1% increase for the current school year. They made no suggestion about a pay raise amount for 1986-87.

"You have an agreement here you can be proud of," Bill Ribblett, executive director of the Tustin Educators Assn., told the teachers' meeting Friday. But Ribblett added: "You are still the lowest paid in Orange County. It doesn't pay you enough."

Sandy Banis, president of the association, said: "Although this is not ideal, it is a settlement we can live with."

The contract evolved after a formal state process of labor negotiation called "fact finding."

Maurice Ross, superintendent of the school district, said in a telephone interview: "I can't speak for the board, but I don't expect any problem (with ratification of the contract). The board has agonized, like the teachers, over the shortage of funds, but it looks like now we have an agreement and can start working together in the best interest of the school district."

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