Sweetwater Teachers Protest Proposed Health Care Changes

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    Hundreds of teachers with the Sweetwater Union High School District protested Monday night. They say the superintendent is threatening to raise their health care rates drastically if they don’t approve a new contract. NBC 7’s Rory Devine reports from Chula Vista. (Published Monday, Oct. 21, 2013)

    Teachers in San Diego’s Sweetwater Union High School District were kicked out of the school board meeting Monday night after a dispute over health care coverage became “unruly,” according to the district.

    A new contract is currently being negotiated. According to the teachers, the superintendent is threatening to drastically increase health insurance rates if they don’t approve a new contract.

    “I heard it’s going to be imposed upon us that we will be paying approximately $360 more a month,” said Jessica Neamon, a high school teacher and mother of 2-year-old twins.

    “$300 a month plus is a huge increase. That eats up most of our food budget,” Neamon said.

    According to the union, when teachers were making choices about health care plans, they were told to consider rates under the old contract. Union president Roberto Rodriguez said the teachers were “blindsided” Oct. 7 when they learned about the proposed rate increases.

    Teacher Gretel Rodriguez called it “unethical” and a “bullying tactic” by the superintendent.

    “My health and my kids’ health are being held hostage by the district right now,” she said.

    “I may lose my two-bedroom apartment to pay for this," she added. "It’s hard to tell my kids we may have to move to a one-bedroom."

    Before the school board meeting, teachers and supporters held a rally, shouting “boo” and “respect our contracts.”

    Six Chula Vista police officers responded in case the crowd got out of control.

    The district released this statement Monday night:

    In an effort to restore civility, the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting was called to recess on October 21, 2013.

    Unfortunately, the discussions regarding health care negotiations is an issue that impacts everyone. We understand people are passionate about it and we understand that this is a sensitive issue on both sides, however no one wins when the audience is unruly. We encourage everyone to share their thoughts and point of view in a respectful and civil way. We embrace restoring a civil tone so that productive district business and bylaws may resume.

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