The president of the Burbank Teachers Assn. told teachers on Monday that they should reject the school district's latest salary offer in an 8-month-old wage dispute. That would clear the way for the first strike by teachers in six years.
"We've got to give the district a clear message that we are not playing games," association President Maureen Doyle said in an interview after the first of two closed meetings with teachers at Jordan Junior High School.
"They've got a duty to bargain in good faith, and they are not. They are trying to lower our expectations."
Strike Vote Scheduled
A strike vote will be taken today, Wednesday and Thursday at each of the 17 elementary, junior and senior high schools in the district, as well as adult schools, Doyle said. The results may not be revealed until Thursday when Doyle appears before the Burbank school board. Teachers appeared solemn as they walked to and from Jordan's auditorium. On a table outside the auditorium lay blank placards and strips of plywood. Several of the teachers who left the meetings took a placard and piece of wood with them.
Other teachers speculated that the district was trying to force some of the higher-paid teachers out of their jobs by firing them if they walked out.
"I feel anger, but I think the feeling of the teachers now is more disgust than anger," said Sid Jurman, 45, a teacher at Jordan. "The money is available, but why aren't we getting it? Is the district willing to lose good teachers?"
Substitute Teachers Lined Up
As Doyle prepared strike-vote ballots, school officials were making their own preparations. Substitute teachers were being added to the list of teachers who would be asked to fill in, said Elizabeth Burroughs, assistant superintendent of personnel services.
"I know what the teachers are saying, but the district's intent is to keep bargaining," Burroughs said.
The two sides met Friday during a 15-hour mediation session with teachers' representatives. It lasted until 1 a.m. Saturday. Although there was "movement on both sides," Doyle said, agreement was not reached.
If the teachers vote to walk off their jobs, the association's board of directors will have the option of calling a strike or using the vote as leverage at a mediation session with the district tentatively scheduled for Friday, Doyle said.
At issue are changes to be made under a renegotiation clause covering the last year of a three-year contract that expires June 30.
The teachers on Friday decreased their demand for a 9.25% across-the-board raise to 7%, plus an additional 2% in bonuses to be paid out of lottery money received by the district in excess of $150,000. The bonuses would use at least 60% of lottery funds received by the district.
The district has offered an across-the-board salary increase of 3%, up from last week's 2.5%, and a one-time bonus payment, retroactive to Sept. 1, of as much as 3.5% of teachers' yearly salaries. The bonuses would be paid with up to 55% of funds in excess of $250,000 that the district receives from the lottery.
The district has already received one lottery allotment of $547,000. Another is expected to increase the total to at least $1 million, officials said.
The teachers walked out in April, 1980, for four weeks during a salary dispute, Doyle said. Several of the veterans of that strike wore small gold feet on their clothing to commemorate the strike.