Teachers union limits after school work
TRUCKEE ” The majority of teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District will no longer work beyond their contracted hours until a salary settlement is reached with the district board and school administrators.
The work-to-rule recommendation is voluntary and advises teachers not to participate in after-hours field trips, clubs, sporting events or home study sessions, according to Jon Halvorsen, vice president of the Tahoe Truckee Education Association.
After a summer of meetings and discussions on how best to proceed, teachers union representatives recommended last week that all teachers participate in a work-to-rule action where employees will do no more than the minimum requirements, said Halvorsen.
“We have to stand up and demand to be treated respectfully and professionally for the work that we do,” said Halvorsen, a vocational education teacher at Tahoe Truckee High School . “We need a change ” and not just a change in salary, but a change in how things are done.”
The action is in response to ongoing salary disagreements for the 2008-09 school year, but is also an attempt to establish a long-term contract to avoid entering negotiations in future years, Halvorsen said.
“We don’t want to go through this fight every year,” he said. “The process ultimately results in a negative educational environment.”
Superintendent Steve Jennings said a work-to-rule motion is not uncommon among teachers unions, but said he does not want to see the tactic interfere with the quality of education.
“Teachers do put in extra time above and beyond their expectations,” Jennings said. “I hope that whatever the teachers are choosing to do, they are not sacrificing the educational experience for the students.”
At last week’s board meeting, the district’s board of trustees passed a resolution to support a fair and equitable contract with the teachers, and also endorsed a union petition aimed at gaining staff and community support for a reasonable contract, said Board Clerk Monty Folsom.
“The board is just as interested in settling negotiations,” Folsom said. “We want to get back to the bargaining table to find something that’s acceptable to both parties.”
As for the work-to-rule decision, Folsom said not all board members are in support of an initiative that may detract from the education of the students.
“We feel whatever needs to be done for the students should be done,” Folsom said. “We’re not for the work-to-rule action if it hurts the students.”
Halvorsen did admit that omitting field trips is counterproductive, but said “the decisions in the end were made for what’s best for the kids.”
“Teachers are working-to-rule not in order to hurt kids, but simply because they can no longer afford to continue to volunteer their time beyond their contractual obligations until they have received a fair and equitable contract for the last year and the present,” Halvorsen said.
At the June 25 school board meeting, a fiscal year budget was adopted and showed a zero percent increase in compensation for the teachers, Halvorsen said.
In a previous interview, board president Kristy Olk could neither confirm nor deny the budget claim, but said once the state budget is finalized, the district may have the opportunity to go back and make changes.
In the meantime, a state mediator will continue meditation sessions on Sept. 10 between school district officials and union representatives in an effort to reach an agreement, Halvorsen said.
“They (the teachers) are hopeful that the school board will resolve this issue so they can get back to doing all of the extra volunteer activities they so genuinely enjoy and value, and which are central to the overall quality of the education our students receive here in the Truckee Tahoe Unified School District,” Halvorsen said.
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