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Tustin Teachers Returning to Work Without Contract

October 10, 1985|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

Tustin's teachers will go back to their classrooms today without a contract, suspending the first strike in the Tustin Unified School District's 113-year history.

Almost unanimously, teachers voted Wednesday afternoon to return to school. Only about four of 200 teachers at a closed meeting opposed the motion, union officials said.

About 240 of Tustin's 397 regular classroom teachers have been on strike since Oct. 2.

Sandy Banis, president of the Tustin Educators Assn., said the teachers now plan to work to defeat two school board incumbents seeking reelection Nov. 5 and to recall the other three board members.

"We're going back to our classrooms, but now we're going into Phase II," she said. "Phase II is where we work to unseat two, recall three."

The teachers have been without a contract since June, 1984, and the key dispute in the strike was the teachers' insistence on a retroactive pay raise for the 1984-85 school year. The school board's last offer, before it broke off negotiations on Sept. 26, was for an 8.2% pay raise for the current school year but no raise for last year.

"We think the community has now learned that the school board won't negotiate," Banis said. "Now it's up to the community to get new school board members."

During a closed session Wednesday at the Elks Lodge in Santa Ana, teachers unanimously authorized the union to resume the strike at any point that the union executive board thought might be necessary, Banis said. "And you know our teachers," she said. "If they go out one more day, it's not likely it would just be for one day."

Union leaders had recommended a one-day strike, but the teachers voted to continue it. The union leadership on Tuesday again recommended a return to the classroom, but the motion was voted down.

Ed Romeo, a California Teachers Assn. official who has been advising the Tustin teachers, said on Wednesday afternoon that the teachers decided to suspend the strike "because people in the community were saying: 'You've done your part, now let us do ours.' "

Romeo said that Tustin residents have been indicating their desire to replace the school board members.

Tustin schools Supt. Maurice Ross said he was glad the teachers were returning to their classrooms, but that he was certain the community had not turned against the board.

"The talk against the Board of Education is standard CTA (California Teachers Assn.) procedure, and I don't expect the community will do what the union is saying," Ross said. The strike, Ross said, accomplished nothing. "There has been no change in the last final offer" by the school board, he said. The board is willing to meet with the teachers and explain the final offer, he said, but the board has "nothing more to negotiate."

A "fact-finding" process begins Monday, a formal labor dispute procedure in which three people try to determine the basic issues and then make non-binding recommendations. The district will choose one person and the union another, and both will choose the third.

But Banis and other union officials said that before the fact-finding ends, the teachers association will oust incumbent Edward H. Boseker and appointed incumbent Dorothy T. Ralston, the school board president.

The teachers have said that a massive display of citizen support was demonstrated at the school board's Monday night meeting at Tustin High School's Northrup Field. About 1,600 people, almost all of whom vocally supported the teachers, attended that meeting.

Ross has said that almost half of that audience was students and that many of the adults were friends and relatives of the teachers. He said that he believes Tustin residents overwhelmingly favor the school board's stand.

sh Student Boycott Possibility Return of the teachers today still leaves in doubt the proposed boycott of classes by 1,000 students at Tustin High. Craig Castellanet, 16, a junior at Tustin High, warned the school board Monday night that he has commitments from 1,000 students to boycott school today if negotiations have not resumed.

Banis said Wednesday that the teachers association opposes any walkout or boycott of classes today by students. "This is the teachers' strike, not the students'," she said. "We want the students to stay in their classrooms. It feels good for us to know they're concerned, but we in the association don't want the students to go out."

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