Labor Leader Urges School District Negotiations

Teachers union president says there must be more communication

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A major labor leader in San Diego is trying to open the gates for negotiations between the school district and the teachers union after more than 1,500 teachers, counselors and nurses were told they would be laid off.

    "Time is ticking," said Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of the San Diego Labor Council. "It's not time to play games by either side."

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    Head of the labor council, Lorena Gonzalez, along with parents, principals and education leaders called on the teachers union and the district to get together and act with a sense of urgency.

    The call to action comes after trustees with the San Diego Unified School District approved 1,543 final layoff notices on Tuesday.

    "We want real discussions that will lead to something immediately," Gonzalez said.

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    However, Gonzalez did not express outright support for concessions. She made it clear that she does not believe teachers should open up their contract.

    She and other members of the school district community say trustees need to be honest about the number of teachers it can call back, before the union can make any informed decision about what it can or cannot live with.

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    "If furlough days continue, what does that mean? How many teachers come back? How many are we recalling because of attrition?" Gonzalez asked. "Let's get some real numbers. I don't think it's fair to a union to tell them to make decisions about what they're willing to give up when we don't know what that means on the other end."

    There may be other options to get those notices recalled, she added, sooner rather than later.

    In response, the teacher's union president said he would be open to more communication.

    "It's a matter of getting good numbers form the district and then moving forward from there," said Bill Freeman, president of the Education Association. "But I do agree that it is important we come together and clean this up."

    The district also agrees with Freeman, but said it does not have the numbers of teachers who can be re-called for next year, as Gonzales suggested it should release.

    Attrition happens over time, a spokesman said, and is a very complicated process.

    The board has directed staff to decide recalls as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the district and the union could be in formal talks next week, Freeman said.

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