Bucking a trend of labor strife in other states, the San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union the have reached a tentative three-year agreement that includes a new maternity leave benefit.
The parties reached agreement early Wednesday morning, following a 16-hour bargaining session and months of collaborative negotiations, the district said.
“We worked diligently with our partners at the San Diego Education Association to reach an agreement that will support the success of all our students,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten.
“This agreement will help compensate our teachers for their hard work, while also helping the district attract and retain new educators.”
The three-year tentative agreement includes a 2 percent raise in the 2018-19 school year, with staggered payments: 1 percent to be be paid July 1, 2018, and 1 percent to be paid by February 2019.
In addition, the tentative pact awards SDEA employees a one-time, 1 percent off-schedule payment to be made by August 1. The one-time payment was negotiated in exchange for the settlement of an outstanding grievance independent of the contract negotiations.
In a statement posted on its site, the SDEA said: “The school board didn’t settle this contract because they were feeling nice. They settled our contract because we organized as union members and demanded it.”
SDEA said it shouldn’t have had to threaten a strike to win a fair contract, “and we need to continue to hold them accountable for steering our district in the right direction.”
The union said previously planned school board Town Halls would start immediately.
“We need them to commit to long-term prioritization of competitive educator wages, and to address the continuous decline in enrollment responsible for our ongoing budget problems,” the union said.
The preliminary contract also includes a new benefit — three weeks of paid maternity leave for women in SDEA who have worked in the district for at least one year, the district said.
“We won three weeks of paid maternity leave, making us one of only three districts in the county to have it,” according to a union statement that also touted as victories the preservation of fully paid family health care for three years and tentative agreements that would improve class size.
In addition, the pact would give permanent and probationary SDEA members access to the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program that offers professional support to new teachers.
Lindsay Burningham, who represents more than 6,000 teachers as SDEA president, said the proposed raises are well-deserved.
“Our San Diego Unified educators are worthy of fair and competitive salaries, and for the first time will be eligible for paid maternity leave,” Burningham said. “It is the hard work of our educators that has contributed to record graduation rates and student success in the San Diego Unified School District.”
Before it becomes official, the membership of SDEA must ratify the contract revisions, and the San Diego school board must vote to approve the agreement.
School board President Kevin Beiser called the pact a victory for both parties.
“I’m thrilled that we have an agreement with our teachers, nurses and counselors to provide a quality education for all of our students,” Beiser said.
In states like West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma, teacher walkouts have pressured state lawmakers to grant raises or consider boosting education funding.
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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