Petaluma City Schools District teacher stage walk-out over unfair labor practices

PETALUMA, Calif. -- Teachers in the Petaluma City Schools District are participating in a one-day unfair labor practice strike Wednesday.

About 90 percent of the 460 members of the Petaluma Federation of Teachers Local 1881 are picketing at 12 sites in the district, union president Sandra Larsen said.

The teachers have been working without a contract for a year, and the union's executive council voted against the school district's offer of a 2 percent pay raise, Larsen said.

"This isn't about money, it's about respect. The main issue is retaining and respecting quality instructors during a teacher shortage," Larsen said.

Maintaining the average class size of 24 students also is in dispute, Larsen said.

The union also claims the district's school board threatened to prepare reports against employees who engage in labor activities such as Wednesday's strike.

Larsen said teachers plan to rally at noon in front of the district office, then return to picket at school sites during dismissal time. There is no date for another negotiating session, Larsen said.

Superintendent Gary Callahan did not immediately return a call Wednesday morning for comment. The district's counterproposal on Monday includes a 2 percent increase across the salary schedule retroactive to July 1, 2016.

Negotiations for the 2016-2017 school year began on Jan. 29, 2016.

The district says it is operating with a structural budget deficit.
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