Teachers give union permission to strike

By Maureen Robertson

Ramona teachers have given their union leadership permission to call for a strike “when and if it becomes necessary.”

With 99 percent of Ramona’s nearly 250 teachers voting, Ramona Teachers Association received more than 75 percent yes votes last Tuesday and Wednesday, the union reported.

“Ramona teachers do not want to strike, but we are not willing to accept the district’s unfair, unreasonable imposition,” RTA President Donna Braye-Romero said. “…If all other efforts fail, we now have the unity and support to strike as a final option.”

Ramona trustees imposed a three-year agreement last month that calls for teacher cuts of about 7.8 percent this school year. Cuts for the next two school years are 9.4 percent. The cuts are not cumulative.

The trustees’ vote came after more than 18 months of negotiations with the teachers union, mediation, a fact finding report and additional talks.

The cuts are a mix of health benefit contributions, furlough days and salary. The district’s two other employee groups — support staff and management — previously agreed to cuts.

Ramona schools will be closed next week, May 20-24, for five of the six teacher furlough days in the agreement for this school year. Because of the Memorial Day holiday, schools will reopen on May 28. The last day of the 2012-13 school year for students is June 12. The sixth furlough day for teachers is June 13, an end-of-the-school-year “teacher check-out day” that is now June 12.

“Obviously, we are disappointed that the teachers would take this action, and we continue to hope that cooler heads will prevail before the union actually calls teachers off their jobs and out of their classrooms,” said Superintendent Robert Graeff.

Braye-Romero said the teachers are not willing to accept what they see as the district’s “unfair, unreasonable imposition. The cuts will not only cripple us financially, but will ultimately harm Ramona’s students and our entire community.”

Teachers will see an average of $2,831 taken from their paychecks in May and in June, she said, “leaving many unable to pay mortgages, rents, car payments or care for dependent children or elderly relatives.”

In a letter to parents and community members, Graeff wrote, “While the (teachers) vote does not automatically trigger a strike, it does validate the extensive preparations the district has been making for some time now to ensure that the education your children and young people are receiving will not be interrupted should such a job action occur.”

It is difficult to see what possible good could come from the threatened job action, whether now or in the future, he noted. But, he said, if there is a strike, schools will stay open and be “fully staffed by qualified teachers who will carry out academically sound instructional programs.”

Bus service, the breakfast and lunch programs, and the before- and after-school ESP program also will continue, he said.

If necessary, “additional security will be in place at our schools to ensure that campuses continue to be safe learning environments and that students and employees can enter and leave campuses freely,” he said.

Graeff’s May 9 letter outlines the district’s perspective, including cuts to the district in recent years due to reduced and deferred payments from the state and declining enrollment.

In related matters, the district will present its updated budget to the community and trustees during the school board meeting May 16 at 7 p.m. in the district building at 720 Ninth St.

Also, the newly established Ramona Parents Coalition will present “Fact or Fiction,” results of its independent fact checking related to the dispute between the district and teachers, in the Ramona Library Community Room, 1275 Main St., at 7 p.m. on May 22.

Both meetings are open to the public.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona teachers endorse strike authorization
  2. Ramona teachers union leaders call for strike authorization vote
  3. Ramona teachers schedule strike authorization vote for May 7
  4. Ramona school district, teachers union expect fact-finding report Monday
  5. School board approves emergency measures as district braces for possible teachers strike

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on May 15 2013. Filed under 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.

7 Comments for “Teachers give union permission to strike”

  1. Ramona parent

    As a parent of a high school student, I am concerned about how this potential strike will affect her high school transcript if I choose NOT to send her to school during the strike. Will RUSD and colleges view this as truancy? Even more importantly, how are families with young children and who have both parents working outside the home going to obtain and/or pay for childcare if they too decide not to let their children cross the picket lines?

    The imposed upcoming furlough days must have many working parents with young children extremely upset, frazzled, and concerned about who will care for with their children for the next week. It is appalling.

    This banter between the two parties should have been solved long ago. Having worked closely with teachers and (embarrassingly?) admitting that I voted for four of the members of the school board, I don't understand how "our" board could agree to Dr. Graeff's "best and final offer". What are they not telling us, the public, the parents, the teachers, the students? Is there considerably more information that the board/Super have that we aren't privy to?

    It's my understanding that The teacher's union has always agreed that they will take a cut in pay as many of other districts in San Diego County have had to endure. However, the exorbitant amount that our teachers have been forced to accept is bullying in its highest form. Shame on you! As a citizen of Ramona, I have attended most of the board meetings and continue to see and hear that every time the teachers get close to accepting an offer, it gets taken off the table by the Superintendent and the board. Then, Dr. Graeff and the board come back with an even crazier offer than before. What gives guys?

    So, is it a fact that every parent, teacher, student has to suffer because the Super and board decide that tit for tat, "nanny, nanny, you can't beat us" is acceptable behavior in order to have the upper hand or to save face by "winning" the battle? What a disappointing disgrace.

    With a heavy heart, I will admit that I am afraid to sign my name to my diatribe for fear of retaliation against my family.

    Help me out here…I just don't get it.

  2. Mmj

    Seriously? The teachers have been asked for no more that the administration and classified staff members agreed to months and months ago. Why is it okay for your daughters Principal, the school nurse and and the custodian to take a 10% pay cut but the teacher should not be expected agree to the same? RTA was offered the same contract accepted by the other units. All this could have been settled long ago had they just agreed to what everybody else agreed to. No more and no less Instead they chose to drag it out while every other emoloyee in the district ( and much of the state) quietly endured smaller pay checks for 2 years and now teachers have the nerve to cry fowl because their being asked to pay retroactively? "Draconian" cuts are fine for the woman who drives the school bus and the cafeteria worker who gets up before dawn to prepare her breakfast but teachers must spared. Please, go,ahead and keep your daughter home during thr coming strike. The district will lose money ultimately making the situation worse for all parties, teachers in particular but at least you can thumb your nose at those unreasonable board members you once trusted. Those mean people who volunteer their time so the can play nanny, nanny with teachers. You're ridiculous woman.

    • Ramona parent

      Thank you for your reply, Mmj. I see your point. It is true that ALL of the district's employees other than the teachers have taken pay cuts. I apologize for not including them in my comments. It is tragic that anyone has to take a pay cut or lose their job. They are as vital to RUSD and our children as the teachers are.

      Is the pay cut for the staff 10% each year? If so, it is unfair and unfathomable! I don't place the blame on the current board. They are just caught in the crossfire. It is obviously a difficult and thankless job. I admire them for sticking it out this long.

      Yes, I do think the teachers AS WELL AS THE REST OF THE STAFF should be spared. However, my pie in the sky ideals aren't reality. It was not my intention to offend.

      Wouldn't it be nice if there were more people like us who truly give a damn about this entire mess? Maybe if more people knew what was going on, Prop R would have passed and no one would have to take a cut. We choose to live in Ramona…nice people, good schools, quiet, friendly neighborhoods. Even though I lost my job among other things, I voted for Prop R. Yes, it would increase my taxes and I certainly couldn't afford it, but spread out over the 30k or so people in Ramona, it seemed like the right think to do. Obviously not enough of us agreed.

      Please accept my apology for offending you.

  3. Lucy

    Tragic for the children of Ramona. It is the result of poor political leadership at every level, the school board especially. The teachers are not the problem. I weep for the future of the children of Ramona. What a backwards town, with its priorities a backward disgrace.

  4. Guest

    The agreement that the administrators made was that they would pay into benefits in exchange for nine additional vacation days. Another part of this agreement is that if RTA didn’t settle by April 15th, the admin team could request to be reimbursed for hat they had paid into benefits. They still get the nine extra vacation days though. Check out the board meeting agenda from October 2012.

  5. Worker Bee

    Are you saying the administrators cut a sweet deal for themselves? If so then RTA really missed the boat when they refused to take that deal. I have to agree with Lucy about the problem stemming from poor leadership at every level. The RTA is no exception. Seems. RTA did the teachers a huge disservice.

    • Guest

      Neither the teachers nor classified were ever offered that deal (nine additional vacation days and the ability to request to be reimbursed any money they paid into benefits if RTA and RUSD didn’t reach an agreement.)

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