Long Beach : Teachers' Demand Granted

The Long Beach school board this week acceded to a longtime demand from the Teachers Assn. of Long Beach by agreeing to let teachers vote on whether those among them who are not TALB members should have to pay union fees anyway.

"The board is solidly behind it and I feel that we're headed into an era of very good working relationships with teachers," board President Harriet Williams said.

The decision ended five months of contract negotiations, which had become stalled on the "agency fee" issue. Earlier in negotiations, the board had agreed to binding arbitration of grievances, another longtime demand. In addition, the two sides agreed to a 7% pay increase this year, 3% of which will be paid in a lump sum, followed by annual cost-of-living adjustments for the remainder of the three-year contract.

The new contract, which replaces one that expired in August, will raise annual teacher salaries during the first year to $24,125 for beginners and $48,747 for teachers with doctorates and 20 years of experience. Steve Dodge, director of employee relations for the Long Beach Unified School District, said the two sides hope to ratify the agreement within a week.

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