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Teachers protest over contracts
March 08, 2013, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Teachers representing two different districts protested in San Mateo County this week over stalled contract negotiations.

On Wednesday night, teachers working for the San Mateo County Office of Education voiced concerns. On Thursday, Millbrae teachers protested in both the morning and afternoon. In both instances, the teachers and employers have reached impasse over contract negotiations.

"After nearly six years with no pay increases -- which also included two years of salary cuts that equaled 4 percent annually -- we are only seeking a 3 percent salary increase this year," said Millbrae Education Association bargaining chair Trish Althaus.

The district has offered a 2 percent pay raise contingent on a concession by teachers on an existing retirement health benefit. According to teachers, this concession would be a reduction or elimination of a benefit for all teachers and would result in a substantial loss of income after retirement.

Linda Luna, superintendent of the Millbrae Elementary School District, previously estimated that the request from teachers would cost $626,382, or a 7.6 percent ongoing increase. At the time the impasse was declared, Luna commented that it was a request the district couldn't afford.

The average annual salary for teachers within the Millbrae district during the 2011-12 school year was $64,168, according to the California Department of Education. The lowest salary offered is $40,971 and the highest is $79,907.

Teachers in Millbrae aren't alone. In January, the San Mateo County Office of Education and teachers who work in the county's community schools and with special needs students declared impasse. These teachers also protested this week before the board meeting Wednesday evening.

In this instance, teachers said they have not gotten a raise in more than five years while costs of health benefits have encroached on their pay. Teachers are currently working without a contract, which expired June 30.

After Wednesday's protest, the county Office of Education released a statement that it is working in good faith through mediations in hopes of reaching an agreement. A third meeting is scheduled between the two sides on March 20, according to the release.

The Office of Education is offering a 1 percent, non-retroactive raise while the employees are asking for a 9 percent salary boost and full family health coverage, according to teachers. In addition to the 1 percent proposal, teachers claim the district is seeking to decrease pay for work during an extended school year.

The average annual salary for teachers working for the county Office of Education during the 2011-12 school year was $79,961, according to the California Department of Education. The lowest salary offered is $37,304 and the highest is $89,124.

heather@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105.


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