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17 Teachers Leave Union in Pay Dispute

September 08, 1985|CARMEN VALENCIA | Times Staff Writer

NORWALK — Seventeen teachers at Anna M. Glazier School have dropped out of the Teachers Assn. of Norwalk-La Mirada Area, complaining the union did not support them in a dispute over pay for extra work days required under a new year-round school calendar.

The crux of the dispute was how much teachers at Glazier should be paid for nine extra days they will work as a result of the school's new calendar. The calendar, approved by the district board Aug. 26, extends Glazier teachers' school year from 184 days to 193 days, with monthlong breaks in December, April and August. Classes under the new calendar began Tuesday.

All Glazier teachers submitted letters of resignation to the association after they decided as a staff to resign membership for a year, said Kathy Perkins, a teacher and former liaison between the school and the association.

Perkins said that Glazier teachers wanted "to make a statement the association could not ignore." In addition to the 17 teachers who dropped out, four new teachers at the school have opted not to join the union, she said.

Glazier teachers wanted to be paid for the nine additional workdays at a per-diem rate, which is a teacher's yearly salary divided by the number of days worked a year. Perkins said it averages $125 to $150 per day. The teachers earn about $23,000 to $28,000 a year.

Teachers' Stance

The teachers maintain that under the new calendar--which they say they supported as a way of improving education--the extra days are mandatory. The association, however, contends all days worked above the 184 days required in the contract with the district--180 days with students and four days without--are voluntary. Currently, those working voluntary days are paid the substitute rate of $75 per day.

"The school board and the district wanted to give us full pay," but the association "couldn't support this," Perkins said.

The 639-member association, which represents teachers in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, could not negotiate the per-diem pay rate because it was not going to be offered to all teachers in the district, said Richard Ruether, executive director of the association. "It was strictly a situation where the association could not negotiate anything that was discriminatory."

Ruether said the association originally asked the district for per-diem pay for all teachers in the district who work above the 184-day requirement. The district responded that it could not afford that but still wanted the higher pay rate for the Glazier teachers. The association refused.

Glazier converted to a year-round calendar for educational purposes and added the extra work days to provide additional planning time for teachers, Principal Ginger House said. Glazier has kindergarten through seventh-grade students.

The teachers have agreed to work the nine extra days at the substitute rate, Perkins said, because they made a "personal commitment" to the calendar when it was being developed. She said teachers feel the new calendar will "upgrade the professionalism of teaching" and were disappointed with the "manner in which the association dealt with us."

"There were feelings they never were really there pulling for us. Equity doesn't mean (everyone gets paid) exactly the same but (that the pay is) fair for what's done," Perkins said.

The Glazier teachers will lose their vote in union elections and no longer will be eligible for group-sponsored insurance offered through the union, Perkins said. Policies now in effect will not be renewed. Perkins said the teachers who belong to the credit union will not be dropped.

School district and union officials differed on whether the planning days at Glazier were voluntary or mandatory days.

Ruether explained that because teachers spend the extra days attending workshops or planning instruction, those days are not mandatory. Therefore, either all district teachers should be paid the per-diem rate for those days or they should all be paid the current rate of $75.

'Not Equitable'

"There is nothing equitable about paying them (Glazier teachers) a rate that is two, three times more than others who work extra days," Ruether said.

Shelby Wagner, assistant superintendent of personnel services for the district, said the district paid for about 2,000 extra workdays during the 1984-85 school year. He said the district could not afford to pay the higher per-diem rate for all teachers, but he said he did not know exactly how much that would have cost.

"The difference we were trying to show at Glazier is it's not voluntary," Wagner said, referring to the nine extra days. Glazier teachers are obligated to work, he added, as opposed to other teachers who volunteer to come in and work.

Ruether said he was not alarmed by the Glazier teachers' resignations. He said the union would have had bigger problems if it had supported higher pay for Glazier teachers than the rest of the union membership.

"It was a no-win situation. We're satisfied what we did was proper," he said.

The district now has 716 teachers; not counting the 17 Glazier teachers, 639 of them belong to the union.

"The organization did not want to lose 17 teachers," Ruether said. "We're sorry to see them go, but there's nothing we can do about it. Life is not going to stop for 17 teachers."

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