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Orange County

District, Teachers Reach Accord

State-mediated negotiations in Capistrano Unified produce a tentative agreement. Details will be released next week.

October 25, 2002|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

Orange County's third-largest school district reached a tentative contract with its teachers Thursday after a marathon 19 hours of state-mediated negotiations.

The agreement appeared likely to end a rancorous, protracted labor dispute that has had many of Capistrano Unified School District's 2,300 teachers picketing and distributing fliers at trustee meetings and school events in recent weeks.

Details will be released Tuesday after the Capistrano Unified Education Assn. informs its members about the new multiyear contract's provisions.

Union members and trustees for the south Orange County school district must ratify the contract before it becomes final.

Chief union negotiator Vicki Soderberg said the union's executive board unanimously approved the agreement. If the union's representative council approves it, the accord will go to members for a ratification vote.

"We don't agree to a tentative agreement unless it's a good one," Soderberg said.

District spokesman David Smollar declined to discuss details of the agreement but expressed relief that an accord had been reached.

The state Public Employment Relations Board administered the two days of fact-finding, during which district and union officials made presentations to a neutral arbitrator acceptable to both sides.

The 46,760-student district had been the last in the county to reach a contract agreement. Teachers, who have been in negotiations with the district for more than a year, have been working without a contract since July.

For two weeks earlier this month, some teachers withdrew voluntary services such as serving on committees, decorating bulletin boards after school and writing college recommendation letters at the union's request.

"You hate to go to those kinds of extremes," Soderberg said. "But we had been bargaining for more than a year ... so we didn't have a choice. Classroom instruction was never compromised."

The sticking points between district officials and the union have been salary increases and their timing.

The union had been seeking a 4.11% raise retroactive to last year while the district offered a 2% raise for last year with another 2% increase for the current year.

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