Contract falls short of approval

Glendale News Press

GLENDALE — A contract between the Glendale Unified School District and its union of janitors, instructional aides, secretaries and other employees was rejected Wednesday night by 46 votes.

The tentative agreement would have saved the district $1.2 million through a mix of unpaid work furlough days. The one-year deal maintained fully funded medical benefits for more than 90% of union members, but was rejected, 242 to 196.

With the deadline approaching for the school board to adopt next fiscal year's budget, up to 24 of the union's members are at risk of being laid off without the deal, school officials say.

Officials would first take into account upcoming retirements before making a final recommendation, said John Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources.

More than 50% of the local affiliate of the California School Employees Union voted, which President Richard Carroll said was a strong turnout.

"I have to see what the concerns were . . . and see if its something that can be rectified because we were so close," he said. "We can take those concerns and bring that back to the table and say this is what people were talking about, didn't understand or didn't want."

Stalled negations with the Glendale Teachers Assn. could also spell termination for 72 teachers by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Employees can be rehired if and when contracts are settled, officials said.

"I'm still optimistic we can come to an agreement with both associations," incoming Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

Even with the setbacks, Sheehan said he wasn't second guessing the district's negotiation strategy, which has centered on giving employee unions a savings target and then letting them devise plans for hitting it.

"We want to learn from them and move forward," he said. "With [the school employees union], I think we will be able to . . . get another vote here pretty shortly. With the teachers association, we're willing to meet any time."

Negotiations with the Glendale Teachers Assn. will be suspended until July 16 at the earliest, but the school employees union is likely to resume negotiating soon, Carroll said.

"We were real close, and I think it was not enough information was presented out to them or some of it was misinterpreted," he said.

"I think our duty as a chapter is to see if we should alleviate any concerns and get the proper information out to people so they can make and educated decision."

But Tami Carlson, president of the teachers union, said the rejection was further evidence that the school district was out of touch with its employees.

"It is Glendale Teachers Assn.'s hope the community hears the collective pleas of the employees of this district, and demand they fund students, teachers and classified employees as their top priority, as they have their administrators," she said.

The deal with the local affiliate of the California School Employees Union had between four and seven furlough days for employees — a tough concession to stomach after years of consecutive cutbacks, members said.

The tentative agreement with the teachers had a lower contribution to medical benefits and called for five furlough days every year of the three-year contract.

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