Accord likely averts S.S.F. teachers strike

The second largest school district in San Mateo County avoided a potential strike with its teachers, coming to a tentative agreement with the union Sunday.

The tentative agreement, which has yet to be ratified by the union or the district school board, increases teacher salaries in the South San Francisco Unified School District by 7 percent this year and 1.5 percent the following year.

The school district would pay for any increased costs for health benefits over the next two years, according to officials. Salary and health benefit increases are the primary sticking points between unions and districts.

The two sides called the agreement “fair” and “good.”

“It’s a good decision,” said Thomas Coddington, president of the South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association. “It’s not ideal, but it’s good.”

South San Francisco Unified was one of five school districts on the Peninsula this spring that required a state mediator to help with negotiations. San Mateo-Foster City Elementary, Burlingame Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and San Mateo Union High School districts have not reached agreements with their respective teachers unions.

Teachers in the Jefferson Elementary School District are expected to pass a strike authorization overwhelmingly today, allowing them to prepare for a strike should state-mediated negotiations with the district fail.

Coddington said the South City teachers union wanted a 10 percent raise but settled for 7 percent. He called the relationship between the district and union good, citing camaraderie that made it a “good district to work in.”

“Tough words have been exchanged and those will not be forgotten,” Coddington said. “But, I think, by and large this has been good.”

The district and union began meeting March 15 and met five times before the tentative agreement Sunday, said John Thompson, the assistant superintendent of personnel for the district.

“This was difficult, but I think there’s a level of mutual respect on both sides that I think will carry forward,” Thompson said.

The agreement is expected to go before the school board for approval at its May 10 meeting, he said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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