Teachers strike looms for San Mateo, Foster City

The “S” word is being floated around San Mateo and Foster City schools this school year, and teachers are as dismayed as they would be if it was coming from their students’ mouths.

In early October — after reviewing a report due Sept. 28 — the more than 600 teachers represented by the San Mateo Elementary Teachers’ Association could formally strike if a contract agreement has not been reached with the San Mateo-Foster City School District.

“At that point the district can make its last best offer, and we’ll likely be taking a strike vote, and after that we’ll be strike legal,” SMETA President Carole Delgado said. “Looking back on the entire year and looking at how little movement the district has made and the climate, I’m not very optimistic.”

On Sept. 13, SMETA and district representatives will present their cases to a three member state fact-finding panel. Both parties will nominate a member, with the third appointed by the state.

On Sept. 17, the panelists are set to deliberate on the information presented by the two sides, and a nonbinding recommendation is expected on Sept. 28. The report is not a formal decision, and either side can choose to disregard it. Delgado said there is also a chance the two parties could reach an agreement after the initial hearing.

“We hope that the fact-finding panel will help us reach a resolution. We’re looking forward to seeing what the panel can provide us after the session,” said Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Joan Rosas.

In the meantime, Delgado said SMETA representatives at each of the district’s 20 schools are working with the district’s 71 new teachers to bring them into the union. Membership is mandatory for teachers.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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