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MEA: Board violated law regarding negotiations
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Did the Manteca Unified Board of Education break the law Tuesday night?
That’s what the Manteca Educators Association are  looking to find out in the coming days after a bizarre twist during a contentious contract negotiation between the district and the roughly 1,200 teachers in its employ. 
While the Manteca Unified Board of Education had a proposal on the table from the Manteca Educators Association, those negotiating for the teachers were firmly expecting Board President Stephen Schluer to come out and, at most, say that the board had approved the proposal with no further comment.
But Schluer instead reported out on each of the items in closed session before announcing that the board was going to make a proposal outside of mediation – essentially offering the teachers exactly what they had asked for in a one-year proposal in a three-year package with an addendum.
With the impasse year, which is addressed retroactively in the district’s proposal, the contract term extends to four years.
The announcement shocked the room – audible gasps and confusion could be heard from the hundreds of teachers that packed the board chambers – and left those who were negotiating on behalf of the teachers fuming at the break in protocol, even going so far as to allege that the board may have broken the law.
“I believe that you’re bargaining outside of negotiations and you circumvented the mediation process,” MEA President Ericka Meadows told the board during her public comments. “I’m stunned at the way that things have occurred tonight.”
Meadows, who organized a rally at the district office on Monday to send a message to the mediator when he arrived for negotiations and another Tuesday evening for when the board arrived to consider the teachers’ proposal in closed session, was outside when her name was called with the rest of the certificated negotiations team on a conference call with the mediator and with officials from the California Teachers Association.
She released a statement late Tuesday evening outlining the MEA’s plans to resolve the matter.
“MEA will be responding through the state appointed mediator to the proposal MUSD presented tonight at the board meeting, in public. This not only violated the confidentiality of the mediation process, but also violated MEA’s right as the exclusive representative for the certificated staff employed by the district,” the release said. “This was direct bargaining with our members, bypassing the legal negotiations process. These are serious violations of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA), the law that governs collective bargaining in California.
“This blatant disregard for our rights as the exclusive bargaining agent, negotiating directly with our members, forces MEA to pursue appropriate legal remedies including, but not limited to, filing unfair labor practice charges with the Public Employees Relations BOARD (PERB). This disregard of the law wastes valuable financial resources that could be better invested in educating our students. The proposal itself, is beyond the scope of the current bargaining impasse, 2016-2017, the year in which this impasse exists. Additionally, the proposal includes a four-year settlement which exceeds the maximum term limit set forth by the EERA.”
The proposal, which will have to be voted on by the membership, includes provisions about retroactive and future salary increases such as:
uAn across the board 2 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2016 for all salary schedules and applicable to all stipends and extra duty assignments.
uAn additional 2 percent across the board salary increase retroactive to January 1, 2017 that’s applicable to all stipends and extra duty assignments.
uEffective June 30, 2017 all salary schedules would receive an additional 1 percent across the board salary increase applicable to additional stipends and extra duty as well.
uEffective January 2, 2017, the district would increase its annual employee benefits to $795 per month. Thereafter, effective July 1, 2017, the district will increase its annual employer contribution to health benefits from $795 to $850.
The proposed agreement, if approved by membership, would be from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2020.
Additional aspects of the proposal include an increase in stipends for science Olympiad coaches, high school choral directors and elementary school band and vocal directors. Adjunct pay for basketball and football games would also increase, and the number of days teachers are expected to instruct would be cut from 188 as it is currently listed to 186 – removing two teacher training days or two six-hour approved training sessions from the calendar.
Certain coaching stipends would also increase, and a new stipulation would require both parties to agree to the 2014 memorandum of understanding for Grade Span Adjustment which continues class size reduction towards a 24 to 1 district average in 2017-18 and to achieve GSA full compliance by 2020.
Traditionally the negotiators would propose a counter, but given the situation Meadows said she isn’t sure what the next steps will be. If the board and the teachers can agree on this final impasse, the next step will be to advance to fact-finding – where the district and the teachers each propose their points to an independent three-person panel that will make a recommendation to the board.
Because the arbitration is not binding, the suggestion from the independent panel would need to be approved by both the teaches and the school board in order for it to take effect. If that cannot be achieved, additional options – including a strike – are on the table.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.