Teachers protest again

GLENDALE — For the third time since March, the Glendale Teachers Assn. protested outside the Glendale Unified offices on Friday — an attempt to pressure the district to offer a fairer deal, organizers said.

Bargaining between the Glendale Unified School District and Glendale Teachers Assn. for a new contract reached the last stage of state-led negotiations Friday, as both sides presented suitcases full of evidence to a neutral fact finder.

"The facts are that the district has the money to keep the status quo for the next two years," union President Tami Carlson said. "Glendale Teachers Assn. is trying to work in good faith by reducing some costs for the future."

Both sides entered negotiations armed with binders of data and arguments to be reviewed by a state-appointed fact finder, who was to then mediate an outcome. If a resolution is not reached, the fact finder has 30 days to write a report and offer recommendations.

If still no accord is reached, the report becomes public 10 days later.

Through those 40 days, both sides can continue trying to settle an agreement. If both sides continue without backing down after the 40-day period, the school district can impose the most recent offer it made in negotiations.

The union would have to accept or strike. Teachers on Friday protested with signs, many of which read "Not ready to strike yet."

Talk of an employee walkout was premature, district Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

"I'm disappointed they would protest and actually have used the term 'strike' when we're working here to hopefully come to an agreement," he said.

Gauging the willingness of members to strike is difficult, but that teachers rejected a tentative contract in May was a sign they would fight, organizing chairwoman Alicia Harris said.

"That vote is kind of a quasi-survey," she said. "The best I can say is people have been willing to fight."

Parents were encouraged to participate in the demonstration Friday, but many have had their fill from both sides, said Linda Guzik, a Glenoaks Elementary School parent who has pressured both the district and the union to come to an agreement.

"We decided since no one was going to listen and they were going to proceed to fact finding regardless of how any parents felt, we were done," she said. "We don't need to stand outside when everyone knows how we parents feel."

Pending Friday's outcome, some teachers — like Edison Elementary School Teacher of the Year Cynthia Landeros, who was one of 66 teachers laid off due to budget cuts earlier this year — may take jobs elsewhere, perhaps to a charter school, she said.

"I don't want to leave Glendale, or my school," she said. "I have the applications ready to go. I just haven't pushed click."

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