Whittier teacher contract rejected

first_imgWhittier Elementary Teachers Association president Martha Winans blamed recent comments by school board President Javier Gonzalez for stirring up teacher rancor, which she said contributed to their rejection of the tentative agreement. Gonzalez, in an interview two weeks ago, implied that teachers should look elsewhere for jobs if they weren’t happy at the district. His comments, which were supported at a recent board meeting by fellow trustee J.C. “Mac” McFarland, left bitter feelings among district teachers, Winans said. Anger over the remarks was “fresh in everyone’s minds” as teachers went to the polls to vote on the pact, she added. “Our hope is that we can come to some kind of agreement and we can feel respected by the school board again and valued,” Winans said. In addition to the 3 percent raise, which would have been retroactive to Feb. 1, the tentative agreement also promised more so-called “no questions asked” days off and paternity leave, as well as a $500 stipend for National Board-certified teachers. • Photo Galleries: Election day around the Valley | Pasadena and WhittierWHITTIER – Teachers in the Whittier City School District rejected a proposed three-year contract offer that included a 3 percent pay hike, school and union officials said Tuesday. Union leaders and district administrators expressed disappointment at the vote. While the total tally figures were not available Tuesday, a majority of the teachers voted “no” Monday on the proposed pact, officials said. Teachers’ health benefits would have remained the same through 2008 under the proposal. “We were really surprised and disappointed,” said Assistant Superintendent Richard Tauer. “We worked in good faith for five and a half months to come up with a new contract. “We believed it was a good deal that recognized the importance of teachers and also balances the long-term stability of our budget,” Tauer added. But Winans said teachers were not happy that the deal made the pay hike retroactive only to February and not to the beginning of the school year. Now, it’s back to the bargaining table for both sides. Union and district officials are scheduled to return to bargaining on Friday. Meanwhile, Winans said she plans to meet with teachers at their schools to find out what they want. For his part, Gonzalez on Tuesday said he made his comments out of frustration over the lack of progress in the contract negotiations. “Personally, I don’t know if everyone knows or understands that I made an apology at the board meeting. If not, I would still like to say that I made a strong statement for which I do apologize,” Gonzalez said. tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955 Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more