Tough times call for tough cuts and these cuts are what most can’t agree upon. Because the Turlock Unified School District, the Turlock Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association can’t find a solution in their employee contract negotiations that will leave all parties satisfied, the district declared impasse on May 4.
“Typically, we have worked through it but we haven’t had to work through tough times like this before,” said Mike Trainor, TUSD assistant superintendent for human resources. “We are thinking about things to cut and in the past we were thinking about things to give.”
TUSD hasn’t declared impasse with a union organization within the last couple of years.
Negotiations started with the TTA, the California School Employees Association, the Turlock Classified American Federation of Teachers and unrepresented employees on March 19.
“When you reach a point where there is not much movement on both sides, one party or both parties can declare impasse,” Trainor said.
TTA President Julie Shipman said that her union is experiencing on-going frustrations with the district.
“We are not blaming the district for being in this situation, but if the district would work with us, that would be nice,” Shipman said. “The district is not offering any counter offers or budging. They only want the two percent salary reduction.”
To declare impasse one or both parties fills out an application through the Public Employee Relations Board. TUSD filled impasse with PERB on May 21.
PERB has five days to declare if the unions and the district are actually at impasse, Trainor said. PERB has declared impasse.
The next step for the district and the unions is to go through mediation, he said. A professional mediator is selected and helps move negotiations forward between all parties. The parties will sit in separate rooms and the mediator will go between the rooms to work with each party.
If there is still no movement in negotiations, a fact finder will come in and review all financial records, Trainor said. That information will be presented to the TUSD Board of Trustees and the board can implement a decision.
“We are at impasse over salary reductions,” he said.
The district is asking teachers to take a two percent salary reduction. The TTA has stated at board meetings that they are in favor of furlough days rather than salary reductions.
Because a solution has not been found through union negotiations, the district has left 19 layoff notices on the table that equal to the total savings of teachers taking a two percent salary cut.
“At this point, those teachers do represent the two percent, and even though we don’t want to lay anyone off, we are in a situation where we have to move forward,” Trainor said.
If those teachers are laid off and the union then decides to take the two percent salary reduction, those 19 pink slips can be rescinded, thus hiring back those teachers, he said.
The impasse process is “quite lengthy” and it is unknown when a solution will be decided upon, Trainor said.
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