The votes are in and the majority of teachers from the Ramona Unified School District have voted to authorize a strike “when and if it becomes necessary.”
On Wednesday, 99 percent of Ramona teachers had voted regarding a potential strike linked to teacher’s efforts to achieve a fair contract settlement with the district.
By more than a three-fourths majority, the Ramona Teachers Association overwhelmingly approved a vote authorizing the executive board to call for a strike action.
On Apr. 22, the school board unilaterally imposed a three-year contract for teachers which reflects a combination of salary cuts, furlough days and benefits contributions. Some of the cuts are retroactive, and will be taken out of teachers’ paychecks this month and next – unless teachers get the injunction they want to stop it.
The teacher’s union says the cuts are severe and the district has refused to bargain in good faith. The district says if it does not impose the cuts, the district will be insolvent and is prepared if there is a strike.
The district has put ads in the newspaper calling for substitute teachers, offering to pay subs $275 a day instead of the usual rate of $95.
The union believes about 70 percent of Ramona teachers voted on the matter on Tuesday, with the rest voting Wednesday at their respective schools.
“We’re disappointed it has come to where we are at this moment and we were hoping cooler heads would prevail and maybe there might be some kind of resolution, which I can’t anticipate at the moment,” said Ramona Superintendent Robert Graeff, Ed.D.
The final count on the votes came into union office late Wednesday.
The last time there was a teacher’s strike in Ramona was in 1976. Ramona Teacher’s Union president Donna Braye-Romero says teachers don’t want to strike, but will do so if necessary.
“We don’t want it to be a strike; we want it to be an injunction and we come back to the table and the district decides to be reasonable and not ask for as deep cuts. That’s what we’re hoping for,” said Braye-Romero.