New Haven teachers strike enters 12th day

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Following more than 11 hours of negotiations at the bargaining table over teachers' salaries New Haven Unified School District said late Tuesday that talks between the teachers' union and the district would continue Wednesday--as the stalemate will enter its 12th day. 

Negotiators resumed talks earlier at 9 a.m. in an effort to end the lengthy teachers' strike that is now in its third week, impacting some 11,000 students in Union City and South Hayward.

"The district's bargaining team continues to be committed to participating in discussions as long as they remain productive and move both parties to a settlement," the district said in a statement following another day of no deal reached. 

The dispute over salary increases for the 562 members of the New Haven Teachers Association remained unresolved when negotiators emerged from an unexpected four-hour bargaining session Monday, following a contentious weekend of negotiations that saw heightened tension between the retiring Superintendent Arlando Smith and NHTA President Joe Ku'e Angeles. 

District spokesman John Mattos said the district invited the union back to the table. 

At James Logan High School in Union City Monday afternoon, some students were out playing basketball. School attendance during the strike has dropped below 10% of the student body. 

One parent, Lisa Rodriguez says her son is a senior. She says the end-of -the year strike has been stressful for families. 

"Just the last few weeks of being with your friends, all in one place at the same time, that's gone. Those memories will never be able to be captured again," said Rodriguez. 

"Our kids are losing out, simple stuff that we take for granted, like senior picnics, getting yearbooks signed, hanging out with their friends, saying good-bye to friends," said Angela Tarnowski, another parent of a high school senior.

Final grades and graduation are supposed to be next week. Mattos says plans are still in place to hold graduation as scheduled at 9 a.m. Saturday June 15th. He says the district has consulted with state officials and if the strike continues, the district plans to review three data points from students' most recent scores and consider the students highest mark as their final grade.

With the contract dispute seeming to have reached a stalemate, one group of parents is upset with the school board. The parents plan to meet to discuss whether to sign a community statement of no-confidence or begin steps for a recall.

"I think that's indicative of how frustrated we are and how we're ready to parents are ready to do what it takes to get kids back in the classroom," said Rodriguez.

The district says while the board members have not been at the table, they have been very involved in the process. 

"There have been multiple occasions where we get on a conference call with the board and we get their direction. We update them on what's going on and for lack of a better phrase...they give us our marching orders," said Mattos.

The union's latest offer was a 6% pay raise over two years, with retroactive pay and credit for days teachers went on strike.

The district says that would cost too much, about $18 million dollars. 

The union says the raise would be in line with California's cost of living adjustment.

"We're in a difficult situation and I'm hoping tomorrow will help us get closer to get out of the situation," said Pace Lash, NHTA Vice-President & Bargaining Chair, "The support we are continually getting from the community is great. It keeps my team's spirits up. Keeps our members spirits up."

Many community members say they just hope for a resolution soon. 

"It's an emotional roller-coaster for us," said Anamaria Campos, a New Haven school district parent, "There's been many tense times when we think an agreement will be reached and an and they're back down again."