BUENA PARK : Teachers Protest Contract Impasse

Buena Park School District teachers packed Monday night's board meeting to urge trustees to reconsider stalled contract negotiations.

More than 100 employees and teachers--including many from neighboring school districts who were supporting their colleagues--carried placards to protest the impasse in the contract talks between the district and the Buena Park Teachers Assn.

Teachers have been working without a contract since July 31, 1992.

In addition to the teachers, the district's 120 members of the California School Employees Assn.--which represents bus drivers, school secretaries, librarians, custodians and maintenance workers--are also at impasse.

At issue between teachers and the board is the union's demand for a so-called agency-fee system, under which teachers who are not union members nevertheless must pay a lesser union fee, said Carol Young, co-president of the Buena Park Teachers Assn.

By law, the unions must represent all employees--including non-members--in grievances and negotiations. These services are costly to the unions, representatives said.

Garret Wyckoff, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Assn., said members of his local believe that the agency fee is a fair plan.

"Everyone should pay their fair share," said Wyckoff, a custodian.

Also unresolved is teachers' demands for binding arbitration in the case of grievances. Under that system, an outside arbitrator hears and decides grievances, with the result binding on both sides.

"Agency fee and binding arbitration are no longer a threat to the Buena Park School District," Nancy Rios, co-president of the union, told trustees. "We urge you to rethink your outdated ideas, break the old paradigm and allow the teachers of the Buena Park School District to determine the best way to equitably represent all teachers."

Young said teachers are asking trustees to allow them to put the issue of an agency fee to a vote.

"We're asking that we be allowed to poll our teachers to see what the majority wants to do," she said. The district has 180 teachers; 161 are members of the association.

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