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Galt teachers union seeks salary increase

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:00 am

Galt Joint Union High School District teachers feel that the governor’s recently released budget will be beneficial at the bargaining table as the Galt Federation of Certificated Employees union is in the midst of stalled negotiations.

The district has offered a 1 percent bump in salaries across the board, in addition to a half percent one-time bonus.

“We’re not finding that acceptable,” union president Alex Bauer said.

On Tuesday, he was joined by half a dozen other speakers who addressed the school board during its regular meeting about their contract. Neither trustees nor Superintendent Matthew Roberts responded publicly.

Bauer said he didn’t expect dialogue, but had hoped to hear at least an acknowledgment the district is working on things.

“That just means we’re going to keep our guard up,” he said Wednesday.

Each year, the district negotiates over salary while every third year the entire contract is opened. They are in the second year and negotiating for the current school year.”The last five or six years, the districts have used the issue of the state budget for layoffs and no salary increases,” Bauer said Wednesday.

“Clearly the governor’s budget is pointing in a much more favorable direction, and we want to make sure we get our fair share.”

A bargaining session is scheduled for next week.

But Roberts said participants need to be careful not to blur the lines between what is currently budgeted for 2013-14 and what is proposed for 2014-15.

Governor Brown’s proposed budget for 2014-15 increases per-student spending after several years and billions of dollars of statewide budget cuts.

“If the final budget enactment looks similar to what the governor is currently proposing then I think education will be further ahead,” said Roberts, who hopes the state budget is approved early enough for districts to plan effectively for 2014-15.

“We are ready to take an optimistic step forward with the governor’s budget proposal.

“However, I will also state factually that the last time in education we heard that state revenues were projected well over $100 billion was in 2007-08, when then-Governor Schwarzenegger proposed very similar levels. We all know what happened next in 2008-09.”

Bauer said the next step to make employees’ desires heard will be what he termed “public informational picketing” outside district offices. Union members last did that in 2010.

“If things don’t move after all that, we’re going to have to up the ante,” he added.

This week was not the first time this school year union members held a public demonstration. Last month, once a week after school, about 20 employees carried signs outside Galt High School chanting, “Our fair share” or “dignity and respect” when asked by Bauer what they wanted.

The demonstrations lasted about 20 minutes.

In October, dozens of teachers and other staff crowded into the Galt City Council chambers during the regular school board meeting to ask trustees to invest in employees who sacrificed during tough economic times. They have also sent personal postcards to the elected officials.

During the meeting, they said the district has more money to spend this year, and that money should be spent on teachers and staff who have not had a raise since the 2007-08 school year.

Since that time, the cost of living has increased by 12 percent, according to Bauer, and union members are paying more of the share of health care costs.

But Roberts feels the district has made progress in many areas through negotiation with employees, but recognizes it can be challenging process for everyone involved right now as districts transition to a new fiscal system, along with the other major changes including Common Core, healthcare and compensation, he said.

“The district has taken a position of collaboration with the labor unions in this regard. We hear the district staff calls for compensation increases, and are working to better understand the systems that will drive future accountability for the district.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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