Teachers quietly underscore salary fight

Parents dropping their children off at San Mateo schools may have noticed that teachers’ parking lots at several schools, including Highlands Elementary, were conspicuously empty, and that many teachers were clad head to toe in black.

To draw attention to the current salary negotiations between the San Mateo Elementary Teachers Association and the San Mateo-Foster City School District, teachers wore black and avoided using the teacher’s lot as a way to get parentsto ask what was going on.

And while parents are generally supportive of the teachers’ positions, some were concerned that the protest tactics were having a negative impact on the school.

“Some folks are irritated, but some seem to feel that any attention to the matter is good, and this seems to be bringing attention,” said Highlands parent Nina Lewis. She added that the efforts were not a concern right now because the end of the year is typically slower.

Other parents have said that because teachers are taking up street parking, parents are having to park farther from school to drop their children off, crowding the streets around schools.

The black clothing and empty lots are a part of the “work-to-rule” days in the teacher’s protest against the district. On select days, San Mateo-Foster City teachers do not offer any after-school or extra help, working only contracted hours.

“Some teachers at the schools have done it to draw attention from the community so that hopefully parents will ask us what is going,” said SMETA President Carole Delgado. The union is currently at an impasse with the district over salary negotiations and has one more meeting before a possible break for the summer.

The teachers are looking for a 15.35 percent salary increase this year, increases over the next two years, full health benefits for their families and an increase to hourly pay for work beyond the contracted daily load. The district is offering a 4 percent increase this year, plus a 2 percent one-time increase and a 0.5 percent stipend for teachers with special credentials or training.

Many parents are planning to appear at the June 7 district board meeting to voice their opinions on the ongoing negotiations.

“It is too bad we have this issue at all in such an affluent area,” said Carol Phillips, another Highlands parent. “As for their tactics, I guess I can only hope more parents gain awareness of the situation and learn to be involved in whatever way they see fit.”

jgoldman@examiner.com

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