Teachers In ABC Unified School District, Unhappy With Contract Negotiations, Plan ‘Work Slowdown’ – CBS Los Angeles

CERRITOS (CBSLA) — Teachers in the ABC Unified School District, unhappy with the results of ongoing contract negotiations, are planning a “work slowdown” on Monday, a union official said on Sunday.

Ray Gaer, president of the ABC Federation of Teachers, told City News Service on Sunday that “the teachers and nurses of ABC will be participating in a general slowdown of work. There are clearly members that would like to participate in a stronger labor action; however, the ABC Federation of Teachers would like to create only the necessary amount of pressure on the ABC School Board members to encourage them to take another look at the value of their employees.”

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What this means is that they will no longer be doing anything outside of the realm of their contracted obligations. This means that before school or after school “extras” like tutoring will be on hold. They also noted that they will stop creating extra lesson plans for students who are impacted by COVID-19 and unable to attend class in person, something they had been doing over recent months.

“They also said before school you can’t arrive early, you can’t ask for the teachers. Once they’re done working, they’re done working,” Andy Cruz, a ninth grade student told CBS reporters Sunday.

The main issue appears to be teacher pay, with union officials saying they’ve worked without a contract for two years, while the district has spent money on various campus improvements.

Cruz’s father thinks that enough is enough when it comes to the treatment of the district’s teachers, and that the “school board should give in. They (the teachers) do a lot for our kids,” he said.

Gaer also spoke with CBS reporters on Sunday and discussed the state of the negotiations. “Yes, it is about the money,” he said, “but sometimes it’s less about the money and more about how you’re being valued, and how you’re being treated,” especially when it comes to how much extra work teachers do on a daily basis.

Attempts to reach district officials Sunday were not immediately successful. District officials have told Cerritos Community News that the government reclaims reserve money above a certain percentage if it’s not spent.

In its most recent newsletter on Jan. 22, the teachers union said its negotiating team exchanged offers with the district in a mid-January negotiating session.

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“Expectations have only gone up, not down,” the union’s Ruben Mancillas said. “Members know what the inflation rate is. Members know what the salary schedules are in neighboring districts. Members are aware of how much additional federal and state funding has been made available to help support the extraordinary circumstances we have all been challenged with. Members have even seen new capital improvements like solar parking structures going up in the district parking lot. They have an understandable sense of urgency regarding negotiations producing a positive result for themselves and their families.”

While there are no official reports or indication that a strike is looming, the move towards a “work slowdown” certainly points union officials into believing this would be the next step taken in the process.

Gaer noted that, “they’re at kind of a breaking point,” when referencing the teachers and nurses in the school district. “We’re asking them (the district) to get to it as soon as they can and not to impact student as much as possible,” he continued.

The ABC Unified School District serves over 20,000 students throughout the cities of Artesia, most of Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, the portion of Lakewood east of the San Gabriel River, and tiny portions of Long Beach, Norwalk and La Mirada.

According to Gaer, the next step in the process would be a “sickout,” which could lead to a potential strike.

“It’s kind of saddening,” said Antero Pagunsan, a parent of an ABC Unified student, “but I understand where they’re coming from. It’s a difficult time for everybody.”

The two sides aren’t scheduled to meet again until Feb. 15 at the next board meeting.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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