ALAMEDA -- Teachers have declared an impasse for the second time in their contract talks with the Alameda Unified School District, saying the district's latest offer was less than the total compensation package it put on the table when negotiations stalled last month.
But district officials said their most recent offer of a 2.5 percent ongoing raise, plus an opportunity to reopen salary talks next January, was aimed at addressing the teachers' call for higher pay.
"We remain willing to negotiate and find reasonable compromises in negotiations," Superintendent Kirsten Vital said. "We need to get back to the table and resolve these issues."
Last month, the Alameda Education Association declared an impasse after it said district officials did not respond to its proposal for a 4.5 percent raise over two years -- a counteroffer to the district's initial proposal of a 2 percent raise and a plan to financially reward teachers who participate in a pilot program aimed at boosting student achievement.
As part of seeking support for their salary proposal, teachers said they pulled back on their call for the district to pay more toward health care benefits. The teachers declared an impasse Feb. 8 -- the same day they returned to the table -- and are now hoping the Public Employment Relations Board will appoint a mediator.
"We need the assistance of a mediator to move this process forward," said Gray Harris, president of the 524-member union. "This district is in good financial health, voters passed Proposition 30, and we have worked on this contract for 10 months to no avail. We are hoping (the board) will help us reach a fair contract."
California voters passed Proposition 30 in November. It's projected to raise an average of $6 billion annually for the state's general fund and to help prevent cuts to education. The district was willing to pay for a private mediator acceptable to both sides, but the union rejected it, Vital said.
District officials took off the table the proposal to compensate teachers who participate in "Professional Learning Communities," the pilot program aimed at boosting student achievement, saying the union had rejected it during the previous bargaining session. As part of its latest proposal, the district made offers on working hours, discipline and other issues. So far, no agreement has been reached on any articles in the contract. Teachers have not had a raise since 2008.
"After 10 months and 23 bargaining sessions, teachers are very frustrated with the district continuing to not make members a priority," said Richard Robert Bunker, the negotiating chair for the teachers.
The school district's proposals can be viewed by going to http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/ and clicking on the "Labor Negotiations" tab. Details on what teachers have offered is available at https://sites.google.com/site/alamedaea/home.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.