Education

Mediation effort between Lucia Mar district, teachers fails

Lucia Mar Unified School District parents and families march through the Arroyo Grande Village in support of the teachers union in March.
Lucia Mar Unified School District parents and families march through the Arroyo Grande Village in support of the teachers union in March. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Mediation between the Lucia Mar Unified School District and its teachers union failed to reach a compromise on teachers’ salaries Wednesday, paving the way for a possible strike.

Members of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association have been working without a contract since their last one expired June 30. They had been seeking a 10 percent pay raise, to take effect in the 2015-16 school year; the district originally offered a 2 percent raise.

“Today was up and down; it was frustrating and in the end, disappointing, but I think we did make some progress, because for the first time the teachers union has come off its 10 percent,” district Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said following the mediation session. He said the district’s final offer was a 6 percent raise over three years, which the union declined.

Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association President Donna Kandel declined to disclose details of Wednesday’s negotiations, citing legal restrictions that prohibit sharing such information with parties outside of mediation.

The union, which represents about 580 teachers in San Luis Obispo County’s largest school district, will hold a strike authorization vote Thursday, Kandel said. If the majority of its members vote in favor, the union could proceed with a strike once a final negotiation attempt with the district is made.

Final negotiations will take place once a fact-finding report is released sometime at the end of the month, Kandel said. The report details how a neutral, third-party observer suggests the two sides reach a compromise. Fact-finding is a standard part of the collective-bargaining process.

A date for a possible strike is not yet set.

“Although we really do not want to strike, if our teachers vote to do so, it will be because the long-term goal is to benefit the district in the long run and to benefit our students,” Kandel said. “It’s a hardship. It’s a sacrifice for everybody, we know, but we think the district has the wrong priorities here.”

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