Union City teachers leaving district due to prolonged New Haven Unified teacher strike

UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Teachers in the New Haven School District took to the picket line early Tuesday morning as they have done for the past three weeks.

The latest round of negotiations between the teachers association and the district began at 9 a.m. and is expected to last through mid-afternoon, as the strike moves into its eleventh day.

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The district says it won't be a full day of negotiations because of the school board meeting set for 6 p.m. The teachers association plans to hold a rally starting 5:30 p.m. ahead of the meeting. Teacher salary remains the key issue.

"What we are really fighting for is a living wage, so we can continue to live here in the Bay Area and teach our students," says Paul Stickland, who teaches second grade, and who has been on previous negotiating teams.

Stickland says the big obstacle remains the district's refusal to accept a 6 percent pay increased proposed by a neutral act finding report.

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"It's not an audit. It is actually a third party that is appointed by the state. They have expertise in school finances. So they know what they are doing. And their recommendation is three-three: a 3 percent raise this year, and 3 percent next year," he says.

The 6 percent raise the teachers are demanding is way down from their initial ask of 20 percent.

The district's current offer is a 2 percent raise, up from their initial offer of just 1 percent.

The district claims that the fact finding report is misleading because it is asking the district to use money from its reserves, while county auditors say the district is in the red.

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"The county has said, you are deficit spending, you need to cut these millions in dollars in costs," explains John Mattos, a spokesperson for the district.

Mattos says the district also faces declining enrollment, which equals millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Many frustrated parents who have been on the picket line still blame the district for the deadlock.

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"I feel like the teachers have continued to make concessions, going from a 20 percent (pay raise) to 10 to 7 to 6 percent. And the board members and the superintendent dug their heels in and are unwilling to bargain," says Yolanta Bustos, who has two kids in the district.

The teachers association says the prolonged strike is now forcing some teachers to leave for jobs in other districts.

"They are being offered really sweet deals to come other schools. So we are going to be losing some of our best people if we don't get back to the classroom and end this," says Stickland.
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