Lucia Mar mediation fails again

March 26, 2015

grocerystrikeBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

Yet another mediation attempt failed Wednesday in the Lucia Mar teacher pay dispute that may soon result in a strike.

Union members are scheduled to vote Thursday on whether or not to authorize a strike. Negotiators from both sides must meet at least once more, but if no agreement is reached, a strike may begin on April 13.

The Lucia Mar Teachers’ Association has threatened to launch a strike if its members do not receive 10 percent pay increases. Lucia Mar District officials initially offered the teachers a 2 percent raise.

District administrators have now raised their offer to a 6 percent salary increase implemented over a period of three years, according to a district memorandum obtained by CalCoastNews.

“The union bargaining team left the negotiations without making a formal offer,” the memorandum states.

Union negotiators attempted to end negotiations at 3 p.m. and insisted on stopping at 5 p.m., while district board members wanted to continue talks.

“We were prepared to be there till midnight,” district board member Colleen Martin said. “We were really disappointed that the teachers were not. A strike will have no winners.”

A report compiled by a fact-finding panel is expected to be circulated internally sometime next week and released publicly 10 days later. After the public release of the fact-finding report, the two sides must meet again.

The earliest date Lucia Mar teachers could begin striking falls during the district’s spring break. April 13 is the day that follows spring break and the most likely date for the work stoppage to begin, if the teachers do decide to strike.

A majority vote of union members is required to initiate a strike.

The average Lucia Mar teacher currently receives an annual salary of about $61,000. Lucia Mar teachers received a 2 percent raise in 2012-2013 and a 4.3 percent bump in pay in 2013-2014.

If they receive a 10 percent increase in the current round of negotiations, their pay will have risen 16 percent over three years.

The teachers have staged several rallies and marches which have drawn hundreds of supporters. They have also distributed personal phone numbers for members of the school board.

District officials have already begun searching for substitute teachers willing to cross the picket line.


When people in the real world feel they are worth more and their employer is not paying them enough, they quit. And seek their value elsewhere.

If these teachers are underpaid why don’t they quit and seek their true value in the marketplace.


Because they know the real truth.


It’s not that simple. Teachers are constrained by the structure of contracts generally in place in California, i.e., experienced teachers typically move backwards in salary when shifting districts because of policies that only grant a few years of service credit on the salary schedule. They aren’t really “free agents”! If they were, I doubt Lucia Mar would have any experienced teachers left!

For those of us who were born and raised here, it’s upsetting to see our beloved district come to this! The superintendent and board need to come to their senses and put their staff, and not their resume-building expensive projects, at the top of the priority list.


Well, the US taxpayer funds schools.

The “government” system is the monopoly. There is no “voucher” program by which taxpayers can take their allotted dollar amount and either stay with their public school, or maybe use their voucher + $1500/year for private education.

Why this matters is that if that WERE an option, it would also allow teachers to search for better. It would allow School Districts to say “No” more powerfully.

There was a point in time where school vouchers were discussed. Governors like Jerry Brown would never allow that.

So, there really isn’t much of a marketplace. It’s like a strawman argument. There IS no choice.

Ana di Plosis

Lucia Mar Teachers Vote to Authorize Strike

LMUTA Files Labor Violation Charges Against District

Arroyo Grande – Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association Members voted overwhelmingly today to authorize LMUTA’s executive board to call a strike in the event a contract settlement is not reached and the school district imposes its “last, best final” offer 2%, a figure far lower than either the district’s ability to pay or than needed to begin to make Lucia Mar more competitive with neighboring school districts.

“This vote shows our members are committed to achieving a fair settlement and are ready to stand up for what’s right,” said LMUTA president Donna Kandel. “We all remain hopeful that we can avoid a strike, and while our team remains ready and eager to negotiate, it’s going to take a real change in direction by the school district to help make an agreement happen.”

A report from a neutral state fact-finder is expected to be released Monday; the two sides have another and probably final opportunity to meet and try to reach an agreement after that release. Today’s vote does not necessarily mean there will be a strike but it makes it much more likely, giving the executive board authority to call one as a last resort.

In related news, today LMUTA and the California Teachers Association filed Unfair Labor Practice Charges with the Public Employment Relations Board against the school district over numerous items, including threats to illegally stop payment for health benefits, refusal to bargain changes to terms of employment, unilaterally changing leave authorization policies, interfering in protected activities (legal union actions), attempting to undermine union leadership through inflammatory and false statements, threatening and coercing members in attempts to stop them from participating in protected activities, and violating mediation confidentiality by publicly disclosing proposals discussed during mediation.

“These illegal actions by the District are only making it more difficult to achieve a settlement, and violations like this are a terrible example for students and our community,” said Kandel.


For argument’s sake, what is a teacher worth?

Let’s assume for a moment we are talking about your “average” teacher on the Central Coast. Age-about 48; years of experience >10, flexibility-great; they are asked to teach different grades more often than you would think, which is a very challenging thing to do. That would be like asking a mechanic that specializes in Fords to go work on Mitsubishis.

Now, teachers are also asked to teach kids with ADHD, ESL kids, drug exposed kids. Then you have kids with with diabetes, asthma, kids that are simply not supported at home. While you might have a class full of 6th graders beginning pre-algebraic fractions, you might have 6 of those kids who STILL don’t know their basic multiplication facts. The school can only do so much, and at some point, that student is sent home with flash cards so the PARENTS can help with THEIR KIDS.

When there aren’t enough parents to make sure kids can cross the streets safely, TEACHERS are outside crossing those kids. When parents are too cheap to buy the basic school supplies for the kids, TEACHERS quietly supply their students necessary items.

Teachers take home papers to grade while helping their own kids with homework. How do people NOT know this?

I don’t like paying high taxes either. But why are our productive, middle class citizens being asked to pay the price? We have prison inmates, illegals, CEOs making MILLIONS; we have politicians fleecing our dollars on programs and fluff we neither need nor want. And yet, here we are, arguing amongst ourselves over scraps. It is beyond ridiculous.

So I ask again, what should teachers make? Keep in mind, they have to go home and pay rent, health insurance, they may have continuing education to pay. What’s fair?


Cry me a river.

its not fair has nothing to do with economics. When you earn billions for a company you are paid millions. There is no direct revenue generated by a public school teacher. Teachers are worth what private school teachers are paid.

“Its not Fair” is phrase used by 3 year olds (and our current president of course)

Mr. Holly

Don’t forget the 3 months off during the summer. They do have a significant benefit and retirement package. There pay is above the median income for the area. If they don’t like it go get a job in private enterprise where they will get 2 weeks off during the summer, will have to deal with public on a regular basis and not in the confines of their classrooms and last but not least loose their tenure and be subject to being productive.

Ana di Plosis

If you want the truth, watch this:


Screw Lucia Mar, they waste so much money!!! Look at what has been spent on New Tech High school what a joke!!! If people only knew where they “hide” money it’s unreal. I say strike away and let’s see just what happens…


The Sheriff’s have received 24% since 2008. That information is available from their union. The Board of Supervisors have given themselves about 16ish % counting this most recent raise since 2008. Social security recipients have received 16% since 2008. This is all a matter of Public record.

I am not saying whether I agree or disagree on whether they deserve a 10% raise. I am saying that Teachers have at minimum Bachelor’s degrees, many have Master’s degrees and teaching credentials. 61k on the Central Coast isn’t really a fair wage. They have a right to ask for more.

“Lucky to have a job?” Since when did the American worker become such doormats? Do we have no worth as workers? I certainly do. If you are sick, you want me as your nurse. I will make sure you get the best of care, I argue with insurance companies to “compel” them to pay for services I should not have to fight them to pay…. and because I rock at my job, YES, I will ask for more pay. I am WORTH it. I bet a lot of you out there are worth more too. Start asking for it. Start writing out what you all do on any given day, how you make or save the employer money. It has worth. Get mad if you want, it is just food for thought.

Middle class workers used to be treated with RESPECT. What the hell happened to the USA???

Mitch C

Excellent post. Gives everyone something to think about.

Mitch C

It appears that anyone who marked “Dislike” isn’t much of a thinker.


“Lucky to have a job?” Since when did the American worker become such doormats?”, I’ll answer that as soon as you answer, When did the American taxpayer become such a doormat?, we are taxed enough, and just because the jobs you mentioned are paid too much that does not make it okay to pay another group to much. Where is it mentioned that you must be paid a fair wage, if so, why would that only apply to teachers, shouldn’t everyone get it at the same time, of course yes is the answer, but that money has to come from somewhere, and again the taxpayer is paying enough….


The “doormats,” both workers and taxpayers, are pretty much the same people. Many have been deceived by lying politicians and media propaganda into believing that unrestrained capitalism is in their best interest. This is not to say that capitalism is all bad but uncontrolled capitalism leads to concentrations of power through wealth that too often results in a corrupted system that emphasizes short-term profits over long-term investments in a healthy society.

If the puppets in legislatures could get beyond their donors’ wishes, they could stop giving huge tax breaks to big corporations and put that money to good use. The arguments about “double taxation” by taxing corporate gains is really weak when you think about it hard. (Yes it is double taxation in a sense but so are a lot of other taxes we all pay.) It is also time to hit corporations who move their “legal” addresses to tax haven countries with enough penalties to make them re-prioritize that idea. If you want to do business in the US, you need to establish an official presence here and contribute to society. These are the people/institutions that need to pay decent wages whether directly or indirectly through taxes.


Is anyone else annoyed by the recently revised comment boxes that put entire paragraphs on one line? It makes it really hard to see where sentences and paragraphs need to be shortened.


Keep it short.


They went broke paying the salary and benefits of public employees.


The interesting thing about most “rank and file” public employees is that they are NOT rolling in the dough. I am sick to death of this lame duck argument. The extreme right (some of who created the housing bubble that helped crash our economy and then subsequently were bailed out by the way) blame these middle class, who did NOTHING.

I will use nursing as an example. Nursing Public employees have historically taken a HUGE paycut for the “security” of the pension THEY PAY IN TO, predictable hours, and stability. The trade off is THE PAY. As of right now, the pay for Public employee nursing in this county is over $20 an hour LESS in the Public sector than private. The County benefits charge nurses $1200 a month for a family of 4 for HMO, basic dental, and very basic visioin. That is the employee’s price, taken out bi-monthly. They pay over $300 monthly in to pension, which scales up with age. So, to say Public employees are getting some SWEET DEAL is total CRAP. I am sick of people talking like they know what they are even talking about.

Firefighters, police, “safety”, and “executives” may be the ones with some sweet retirements. But even then, you are talking about the management.

Politicians are vilifying the middle class worker. Shame on them. Shame on those who take the bait. We pay your social security and medicare. Don’t say we don’t, because we ARE.


I am glad to hear the other side of this issue put forth even if I don’t totally agree with it. I think that the media has made excessive pay and benefits sound like a broader phenomenon than it really is. I do have a problem with “defined benefits” retirement packages though. No one else (except corporate execs) gets that kind of guarantee and the debt is payable by the taxpayer when the economy doesn’t match the promised rates of return. I also think that there are many rank and file people who are overpaid — not because their salaries are inappropriate for someone doing a good job but because some of them don’t do a good job but continue to work due to excessive protection by their unions.


I understand that people “don’t agree with it”. Ok…. then what? You CANNOT go back and take away an agreement that was made in the past. That would be like your bank coming back to you now and saying “yeah, we only charged you 5% interest and $900 a month mortgage for 10 years; we realized we cannot afford to do that, so we are going to take that away and retroactively make you pay 6% at 1300 a month.”

If Pensions and Public benefits are going to be slashed and reduced, for a job class like teachers and nurses, where advanced degrees are required, pay will have to go up substantially.

Workers have a right to fight for the benefits they were promised upon their hiring. CEOs, City Managers, Executives, down to every day workers are offered a job “package”. An employee can either agree to those terms or not.

For Public Employees, most have 2 year contracts that are negotiated.


“They have also distributed personal phone numbers for members of the school board” – are people being encouraged to call an harrass school board officials at home?

Union mob mentality at its finest.


I think that’s what CentralcoastRN said, if your worth it, ask for it. You (kayaknut) said your taxes enough, teachers raises won’t cost you! It puts the districts money somewhere that can give value to the student. You have not made a single valid argument on this topic. What do you do for a living, kayak? How do you propose the teachers who do respect their careers, the students and the community survive in this high cost area that I am third generation in? Their ONLY means at making more money in their chosen field and in many of their home towns I through this process. Go back to LA or Bakersfield!


Walking into Vons last Saturday, I was accosted by a band of angry teachers thrusting a flyer into my hand.

In the bottom corner was a list of all the school board members cell phone numbers.


I was embarrassed for all of them.


Jorge Estrada

I question the validity of a public school teacher’s union as I would question the conflicts in a tax assessor’s employee union. If the teacher’s union was limited to teachers who work in private schools, that would be rationable..


A California school board member was impressed that three years ago they got an 8% raise and now are asking for 10%. Can the school board afford that? It’s great to see all the support from the parents, but how many of them have all the facts?


How many people in the private sector have gotten those kinds of raises in the past five years? I would bet, very few. Most are lucky just to have a job. The District probably can’t afford it as it also bumps up retirement contributions to CalSTRS. Yes, their job is hard, but what job making that kind of money isn’t? And there are many people making much less who work just as hard if not harder.

School districts are so mismanaged. The teachers will probably cite bloated salaries for administrators, and that is usually true – but their answer is, bloated salaries for us, too! To me, going on strike is damaging to the children and their education is supposed to be the one and only goal of public education. If you really care about them you don’t walk out on them. Period. And if you want a higher paying job,with better benefits etc., go try to find one. Good luck with that.


The facts are that LMUSD teachers have received a total of 6% in raises over the last eight years. Don’t drink the district’s Koolaid!


Let’s not leave out their step raises.


pirsquared-Spell this out for me unless you’re quoting a friend or someone (and that’s fine) but, where do you come up with 6% over 8 years and everyone else says 10% over 3 years?


There is a difference between the actual SALARY and the value of the “benefits package”.

Stunned, if you have an HMO or PPO and your employer pays a portion of that, that is a “benefit”. So, to sound oh-so-generous, governmental agencies will bloat the “raises” to include the total of anything they contribute. Most people look at a “raise” as the hourly/salary on their paycheck.

Actualized raise is the actual COLA or actual raise people receive. I am “ASSuming” those figures pirsquared is submitting are the LMUSD actual paycheck raises.

Feel free to correct me. I am only human.


I am a retired LMUSD teacher(36 years) who loves the district and our schools. However, as a life-long resident of the south county, I am astounded at the lack of transparency by the district about compensation, finances, and the loss of great teachers to surrounding districts. Teachers answered the call to tighten their belts during the recession—hence the 0,0,0,0,0% raises over five years. As the economy has improved and the district has received an additional 10% in funding, teachers are rightfully asking for a decent raise to insure the district can attract and retain teachers tempted to leave by salaries averaging $5-20,000more in surrounding districts.

By the way, there has been no increase in the benefit package for LMUSD teachers in over ten years!


Seems to me an increase in benefits is the additional $$$$ the district is required to kick in for CalStrs so it does not go broke.

During the Great Recession, how many of us in the private sector had our retirement accounts stay the same?

The teachers did not lose a penny.

Most of us who own our own businesses lost 20 to 30 %.

Teachers usually have never done anything else for a living so their business acumen can be screwed.


I’m not totally read into the HMO PPO part of this so I’ll assume it might be. As a small employer I give benefits. If I pay your $1,000 bill I’ll go ahead and assume that you know that I paid that. How could you NOT count that as value received?

Help me if I took what you said out of context.


Only changes in this period other than the two years mentioned were increases in out of pocket insurance costs. That is all! Jim Hogeboom uses 8.3%, but he includes the 2% offered this year.


Minimum wage from $8 to $10 in 2 years!


How many of you got a raise from 2008-2013?

How many of you had your pensions grow during this same time?

We were lucky to have jobs and a pay check.

Stop whining.


Social Security recipients got 16% in that time frame.

Cal-pers pensioners got a 2% COLA in 2014 alone.

Their COLA’s are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). How nice.


Your facts are incorrect, over the past 2.5 years they got 6% and nothing for at least 5 years before that. So that is 6% over 7 years. Also, how come no one looks at minimum wage increases Over the past 2 years? Way more that 6%, even over 16%. Doesn’t that raise the cost of living?


Not true—raises in Lucia Mar over the last eight years total to 6.3%—-0,0,0,0,0,2,4.3,0%

You can look that up on the ED-Data website!


pirsquared-There were no benefit nor monetary increases in 8 years other than what you posted?


That’s right—no other increases to the salary or benefit schedule.

The teachers saved the district during the recession by freezing the salary schedule and benefits.

The question now is whether the district is willing to make good on its commitment to help out the teachers when things got better. If not, then so much for trust and morale!


Seems to me an increase in benefits is the additional $$$$ the district is required to kick in for CalStrs so it does not go broke.

During the Great Recession, how many of us in the private sector had our retirement accounts stay the same?

The teachers did not lose a penny.

Most of us who own our own businesses lost 20 to 30 %.

Teachers usually have never done anything else for a living so their business acumen can be screwed.