Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Teacher union negotiations go long

Eva Chang
MANAGING NEGOTIATIONS — Meb Steiner, President of the California School Employees Association stands at Palo Alto High School. Her team is working hard to complete this year’s negotiations with the district. “Our big interest is we want to have really good salary increases for our people,” Steiner said. “Many of our people are really low paid workers.”

Negotiations between the Palo Alto Unified School District and both of its employee unions are lasting longer than usual this year as a result of a struggle to come to an agreement on this year’s contract.

California School Employees Association President Meb Steiner said that ideally most years, the negotiations are done before December, so there is some time before they have to start negotiating again in May.

“It’s not fun when they go that long because it can get frustrating, too, because you’re like, are we moving forward?” Steiner said.

Palo Alto Educators Association President Teri Baldwin agrees that the negotiations become difficult after spending a long time with little progress.

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“Unfortunately, we are very far apart, and PAEA is trying very hard to be creative to help retain as well as recruit the best educators our students deserve,” Baldwin said.

“It’s not fun when they go that long because it can get frustrating, too, because you’re like, are we moving forward?”

— Meb Steiner, California School Employees Association president

If this continues for too long, the negotiations could reach an impasse, called by either party who at that point “may request the board to appoint a mediator” to help them with “reconciling their differences and resolving the controversy” according to the public officers and employees section of the California government codes.

Baldwin, however, does not believe that the district has reached that point.

“We hope, impasse is not necessary for the district to acknowledge the hard work teachers are doing,” Baldwin said.

Despite any difficulties, Steiner says that relations between the unions and the district have always been positive. “We have good channels of communication,” Steiner said. “It doesn’t mean we always agree, but we can sit at a table and talk it through.”