Sweetwater Union HS Teachers Approve Strike

Sweetwater Education Association members voted "yes" on a strike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7's Matt Rascon reports on the strike vote that could affect parents and students in the Sweetwater Union HS District. (Published Friday, Mar 14, 2014)

    Teachers in the Sweetwater Union High School District have voted to authorize their board to call a strike, despite the district's protests that a strike would be against the law.

    Sweetwater Education Association (SEA) President Roberto Rodriguez said 92 percent of Sweetwater teachers voted "yes" on a possible strike. 

    There is no word on when that strike may actually take place. 

    "We really don't want to go on strike, but we will if the district continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith," said Rodriguez.

    In a letter to parents and teachers, the superintendent explained that the SEA and the district have not been able to resolve differences.

    Because of that, they have brought in the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as a mediator.

    Under mediation guidelines, the SEA is required to participate in good faith, which to the district means no strike or even threats of a strike during this time.

    Rodriguez says the union’s contract was violated when the school district lowered health benefits for the teachers and kept large class sizes after saying it would only be temporary.

    “There’s no need to impact classes with large numbers of students. It’s time that class sizes go back down to what our original contract agreed,” Rodriguez said.

    The district has imposed a healthcare contribution much lower than was negotiated a year ago, he said.

    “We’re asking for a fairly modest 3-percent raise,” he added. “We haven’t seen a raise in almost seven years in this district.”

    The association says the two groups have been negotiating a new contract for over a year now.

    Teacher Linda Bennett said she doesn't want to go on strike but feels strongly about the issues facing the union.

    "I've been teaching for 22 years, I've never seen such corruption in a district. And I just want to go back to where we get to teach in our classrooms and be there for our children," Bennett said.

    Her colleague Linda Tuttle agreed.

    "I believe that if we are supposed to have integrity and if our students are supposed to have integrity, everyone in the disctrict should have integrity," Tuttle said.

    NBC 7 reached out to the district but the spokesperson declined to speak until after the results are in.