South Bay : Teachers Authorize Strike

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Teachers in the Centinela Valley Union High School District have authorized their union to call a strike if such action is needed to break a deadlock in contract negotiations that have dragged on for a year.

Laren Sanders, a business representative for the 250-member Centinela Valley Secondary Teachers Assn., said 86% of the teachers approved the strike authorization, the first in 19 years. District officials said a settlement may be near, but Sanders said a state mediator has failed to reconcile differences after six weeks of meetings.

Both sides said the main stumbling block is a dispute over medical benefits. The district, which has traditionally paid 100% of medical premiums, wants to contain rising costs of insurance by putting a dollar cap on its premium outlays. Teachers would be required to pay any future increases over the current level.


“Medical benefits are tremendously important in Centinela Valley because a high percentage of teachers are nearing retirement age,” Sanders said.

The district has offered an 8% salary increase for the current school year, but the union is asking for about 10%.