Thursday, December 09, 2010


from the LA Times/LA Now |

Strike December 8, 2010 |  9:39 am - La Habra City School District teachers went on strike Wednesday and picket in front of Walnut Elementary School in La Habra. The teachers are protesting a 2% pay reduction and cuts to healthcare benefits.

Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

La Habra teachers strike over pay, benefits cuts

By Tracy Garcia, Staff Writer – Whittier Daily News |

Dressed in red, La Habra City School District teachers protest a permanent 2 percent pay cut, among other issues, in front of Washington Middle School in La Habra on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2010. Nine schools in the district went on strike late Tuesday. (SGVN/Staff photo by Watchara Phomicinda)

12/08/2010 05:26:12 PM PST -LA HABRA - Hundreds of K-8 teachers went on strike Wednesday at the La Habra City School District, following more than a year of failed contract negotiations and a forced 2-percent salary cut this year.

The teachers, wearing red T-shirts in a show of solidarity, held up signs and walked picket lines beginning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at each of the nine LHCSD schools in a strike action that union leaders say they never wanted, but were forced into.

"We are saddened it has come to this point," La Habra Education Association President Danette Brown said in a statement. "The average La Habra teacher will lose over $14,000 ... and some could lose as much as $20,000.

La Habra teachers take to picket lines

Dressed in red, La Habra City School District teachers protest a permanent 2 percent pay cut, among other issues, in front of Washington Middle School in La Habra on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2010. Nine schools in the district went on strike late Tuesday. (SGVN/Staff photo by Watchara Phomicinda)

"And because the district's cuts are permanent, the career impact for teachers is staggering," Brown said.

The teachers' contract expired June 30, 2009 - and by the following December, the inability of both sides to come to agreement resulted in impasse and the involvement of a state mediator and a "fact-finding" panel of representatives in 2010, officials said.

Last summer, the district had proposed a 5-percent salary cut, which was reduced to 2 percent last month.

The pay cut was whittled down because the 5,500-student district received extra money from the federal education jobs bill and the state following the passage of the budget in October, said Superintendent Susan Belenardo.

But union leaders said with the pay cuts - which will remain until a new contract is eventually signed - and cap on health benefits the district is paying, amount to the 2011 cost of a Kaiser HMO plan, which could devastate some teachers, particularly single parents or those supporting elderly parents.

That's why the teachers refused the contract offer - and so, the school board voted in November to unilaterally impose on teachers the 2-percent cut, as well as two furlough days this year and two additional furlough days in 2011-12.

They also voted to reinstate annual step-and-column increases - annual raises given to teachers for years of service and post-graduate college credit - in 2010 and 2011 at their November board meeting.

"Like most other districts, we asked for concessions from all of our staff," Belenardo said. "We just completed a three-year agreement with our classified bargaining unit with the same cuts, and the same was imposed on management."

On Wednesday, district officials said about 90 percent of the union's teachers honored the strike, and student attendance was about 84 percent. Normally, it's about 96 percent, Belenardo said.

Nearly 190 substitute teachers were hired to help out during the strike, each at a cost of about $250 per day. By contrast, the district pays teachers about $450 for a day's work, Belenardo said.

But teacher Kathy Collier, 57, said salary cuts and health benefits are only part of the reason a majority of teachers voted to strike.

"I know people are out there asking why we're doing this," Collier said. "We're fighting for a profession, not just one district. Teaching needs to be recognized as a profession, not as a job, and that's the fight we're taking on.

"People think our jobs are from 7:30 to 2:30, with all these holidays and summers off - they have no clue what our jobs are like," she said. "I get up at 5 every day and I work on the computer for an hour before I even come to work, and I work after school as well."

As such, Collier and her colleagues say they're in this fight for the long haul - and they'll stick it out on strike as long as necessary.

But Belenardo said the district is like every other school district in the state, suffering from deep funding cuts that aren't expected to end anytime soon. And even though teachers say the district has sizable reserves, Belenardo says it needs its savings to help weather state budget cuts at least through 2011.

"It's unfortunate when you can't come to agreement with teachers," she said. "And it's the children you feel for because we don't want to have any disruption in their education program."

So far, no new contract talks have been scheduled, Belenardo said.

additional coverage from Google News

  • The Strike Is On! La Habra City School District Unwilling To ...

  • ‎OC Weekly (blog) - Chasen Marshall -  12 7 2010 @ 6:00PM ​As of 7:30 am tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, La Habra school teachers will be on strike, according to Bill Guy, with the La Habra Education ...

    La Habra teachers plan to strike Wednesday‎ - OCRegister
    all 2 news articles »

  • La Habra teachers walk out to protest cuts
    ‎ - Leanne Suter - LA HABRA, Calif. (KABC) -- Teachers in the La Habra City School District are on strike Wednesday after talks between district officials and ...

    La Habra Teachers To Continue Strike‎ - MyFox Los Angeles
    all 65 news articles »


    Comments to LA Times article(3)

    With the $26 billion deficit that the state is looking at, and they are protesting a 2% cut??? Schools could be looking at another 10% in funding!! I dont want to hear about already agreeing to "furloughs".... Yes, furloughs cut the pay, but they also the days worked.... So the kids lose out as well when furloughs are implemented.... School days have already been dropped from 185 to 180 and class size is skyrocketing...

    Posted by: Really Protesting 2% Cut??? | December 08, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    I am glad they are standing up for themselves. They will be supported by the parents in La Habra, just like the Capistrano teachers were supported by the parents. Only in LA due you have so much ignorance and lack of appreciation for teachers.

    Posted by: LAUSD teacher | December 08, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Your pensions are killing us. What if you got a "pay raise" and moved from a pension (defined benefit) system to a 401k (defined contribution) system?

    Posted by: TrueFreedom | December 08, 2010 at 12:04 PM

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