Ramona teachers schedule strike authorization vote for May 7

By Maureen Robertson

Ramona teachers are scheduled to take a strike authorization vote in the Ramona High School Performing Arts Wing on Tuesday, May 7.

The vote is not to strike, explained Grant McNiff, Ramona teacher and chief negotiator for the Ramona Teachers Association.

“Teachers will vote to decide if it’s OK to strike…to give the RTA executive board the authority to strike,” he said.

The scheduled vote comes after Ramona Unified trustees last week approved cuts of 7.8 percent for teachers this school year and 9.4 percent the next two years. The cuts aren’t cumulative.

Teacher Donna Braye-Romero, RTA president, said a simple majority — 50 percent plus 1 — of those voting will decide.

“We don’t want to strike,” she said. “We’ve never wanted to strike. The district is forcing the situation.”

The trustees’ vote April 22 came after about 18 months of negotiations that included a state-sanctioned fact finding hearing and report. Copies of the report are online on the district’s website, ramonausd.net, and the teachers union website, ramonateachers.com.

After the vote, Trustee Dawn Perfect said insolvency is knocking at the school district’s door.

The district’s latest budget report projects Ramona Unified will have an ending balance of $3.2 million on June 30, the last day of this fiscal year, but will have a deficit of $1.68 million at the end of the 2013-14 school year. That projected deficit grows to $8.9 million in 2014-15.

“I know the county office (of education) will not approve our budget if it’s negative,” Superintendent Robert Graeff said Monday. “We would have to take immediate steps to remedy…Probably the county would enact a series of fiscal measures to either ensure we don’t go negative or we begin the process eventually to a state takeover.”

Graeff said he is not an expert in the closure of a district, and “I don’t want to become that expert. I want the district to take the right fiscal steps to ensure that we never have to address insolvency.”

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to release his updated budget proposal this month and, McNiff said, the district’s updated budget report “will be coming out any day.” A report on both is expected at the trustees’ May 16 meeting.

RTA already has an unfair labor practice complaint against the district, and “amendments are being filed as we speak,” Braye-Romero said Monday.

If teachers next week give the four-member RTA executive board the authority to call for a strike, “it will be at the best strategic time to do it, at the right time where it would make the most sense,” said Braye-Romero. “But again, the teachers do not want to strike. At this point it’s not our desire to do this.”

The negotiations door remains open, district officials said.

RTA wants to see what Braye-Romero called restoration language in an agreement, “not a three-year imposition,” so if the district receives more money, teachers receive a reasonable return.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote
  2. School board approves emergency measures as district braces for possible teachers strike
  3. Ramona school district braces for strike
  4. Ramona teachers endorse one-year contract settlement; district wants three-year agreement
  5. Ramona teachers wage State of Emergency campaign

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Posted by Karen Brainard on May 1 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

27 Comments for “Ramona teachers schedule strike authorization vote for May 7”

  1. guest

    “it will be at the best strategic time to do it, at the right time where it would make the most sense,” said Braye-Romero. Translated….where it will hurt the district, and more importantly, the students the most. I can't believe you teachers follow this ego-maniac around like sheep. You should have taken the cuts that were offered three and four years ago, like the Poway teachers did.

    • Montana Vet

      It looks like all that the teachers union did was stall the inevitable; forcing the members to absorb large cuts at the end of the year. I don't understand the union's strategy.

      • F.S.

        Actually it doesn't look like that at all. It looks like the teachers jumped through all the hoops…numerous negotiations that failed, mediation, Fact Finding and in the end the admin did what they wanted anyway. If it seems like a long time to you, it seems even longer to the teachers. The negotiations team worked to get compromise from the very first meeting. It is very obvious now that the Graeff and Stefari were just wasting their time.

    • PTA member

      We are not Poway Mr. D.

  2. So has the RTA written a proposal to reopen negotiations , with new possible terms of agreement? The Board/Administration cant reopen negotiations from their side, for some legal reason, but the RTA can.
    And any clarification on Dr Graeff's statement on tv news about the District becoming insolvent on July 1, 2013 if the cuts imposed by the Board are not made immediately?

  3. Also… Maybe I missed this… but why didnt the RTA accept the recommendations of the Fact Finding Panel ? Why did the CTA representative contest it in writing so quickly, online? Was this done before the RTA had a chance to meet with the board face to face to try to work this out?
    Did the CTA truly represent the wishes of the teachers of Ramona?
    I"m not asking in order to split the two organizations.. Its genuinely been bothering me , ever since last Monday's meeting, when reps from the CTA , from outside Ramona, came up to me to suggest… " Isnt it illegal what they are doing to the teachers here?!"
    Was it originally the CTA that coached the Ramona teachers who were saying to the public, that they were going to take a 25% salary cut? Or just bad math on someone's part locally ( adding percentages instead of averaging them) ?Or an attempt to draw more sympathy/outrage from the local public?

    • Montana Vet

      I think they may be getting advice from the United Food & Commercial Workers.

    • Montana Vet

      It looks like the teachers were bamboozled by their union leadership.

      • another guest

        What it looks like to you and what it really is are two very different things. Stop speculating about things you know nothing about. You must be B.G.'s PR person. Give it up.

  4. Speaking of bad math.. what qualifies a district for Insolvency… and when? Why did we go from being 3 million in the black this June to becoming insolvent on July 1st 2013 if the teachers dont take this pay cut in the last 2 months of the school year?
    And is it true that it will most likely take 20 years ( until our debt is paid back to the State) to get out from under the thumb of the State once they take over?

    Were we really that close to insolvency that Dr G would have had to vacate his office on July 1st?

  5. guest

    Hey Ramona parents and teachers – look sharp – the most powerful union in the state is here to flex their muscles and intimidate us into submission, and hope that the rest of us will be apathetic enough to not get involved. Ask yourself, what is the CTA's real intent here? They haven't been this involved in other district's negotiations to this extent. Other teachers groups and districts have resolved their issues. Looks like the CTA is "guiding" the RTA and it has resulted in a runaway train that is hell-bent on lawsuits and strikes to get what they want. Our already financially strapped district will be paying legal fees to defend themselves. Outsiders are coming in here to pad their resumes and get publicity then will walk away while we pick up the broken pieces of our school district and children's education. If you don't want this – be vocal! The RTA thinks the community will back them unconditionally. If you want to help get this situation resolved, encourage teachers to vote against a strike and pressure their union to accept the terms of the fact finder's report.

    • Kathy

      We would accept the terms of the fact finding report if the recommendations were being followed, but what the admin has imposed is far worse. And yes the CTA is here at the teacher's request. We pay our dues to get guidance and legal help in times like these. We are just using the resources available to us. The CTA has come in to assist MANY teachers groups when the admin becomes impossible to deal with. Don't blame the teachers for protecting themselves and their families' livelihoods.

    • F.S

      With his choices come consequences. Did Graeff really think he could take over 50% of each teacher's last two month's pay and they would roll over and do nothing? Get real. They are doing what they have to protect their families' income.

  6. Worker Bee

    It is my understanding that RUSD was required to pay all the costs related to the fact finding effort in addition to substantial legal fees during this labor dispute. Now RTA plans to seek an injunction and remedy through PERB (Public Employee Relations Board). I assume this means RUSD will continue to rack up even more legal expenses to defend against this latest action.

    Yes, the COP made a bad situation worse.
    Yes, the Superintendent and the Board have not been proactively seeking a solutions Yes, the community rejected numerous bond measures.
    Yes, we agree it isn't your fault.
    We get it. We really, really do get it.

    However, this food fight you've been waging with RUSD isn't helping anybody. Enrollment is declining, Facilities are falling apart. Relationships are broken. RUSD has been protecting your salaries at the expense of everything and everybody else for too long. Be happy you still have a job to complain about.

  7. Big Daddy

    RTA sues the District, the CTA will pay the litigation costs

    The CTA is the wealthiest and most powerful special interest group in the state.

    RUSD must pay it's own litigation costs. Out of what?

    The RTA has been screaming that the district is not as insolvent as they say. They certainly couldl be insolvent after the CTA is done with the lawsuits. The state will take over, teachers could be served with greater cuts than they now face, our kid's educational quality could be compromised, and your property values will decrease.

    The CTA guys get promotions and their union amasses more power statewide.

    You will be able to thank Donna Braye-Romero and the rest of the RTA leadership personally for all of that.

    • PTA member

      It doesn't work that way. First of all the district has their lawyers on retainer. Second of all the district is nowhere near state take over. There are several steps between state take over and where we are now, Stop with the scare tactics. You don't know what you are taking about.

  8. Guest

    If they choose to strike, fire them and hire folks who want a job.

  9. Proud Rta member

    Although union bashing is one way to look at this, the districts constant decision not to really meet and negotiate has created this problem. RUSD did not pay for the fact finding, the cost was split with RTA. 18 months ago the districts comment at the beginning of negotiations was,we need to be sure that we can get to imposition before the year ends. They started down the decided path that they would be imposing and they proved that point. RTA teammate their own decisions based on their own analysis of the district budget, and yes there are several members who understand and continuously read the budget.

  10. Guest

    I hope you're not an English teacher

  11. Fly on the Wall

    The point is 18 months ago the district's comment at the beginning of negotiations was,"We need to be sure that we can get to imposition before the year ends." They always planned to impose. The teachers were in a no win situation. Guest I know you think we are to blame, but facts do no support your theory. Unless you were in the room during negotiations, you are in no position to state your beliefs as facts. They are nothing more than your biased speculations.

  12. Fly Swatter

    Dear Fly on the Wall

    You say the district's comment at the beginning of negotiations was, "We need to be sure that we can get to imposition before the year ends."

    Exactly WHOM are you referring you to when you say, the district? The district is not a person so I assume you meant a particular district representative made this comment. If so, WHO specifically said this? This bold statement requires clarification.

    Were YOU personally in the room during negotiations? If so why the pseudonym? If you were there and have some "facts" to share why not state your name and tell us what you know?

    If not then I'm afraid YOUR comments are " nothing more than your biased speculations."

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