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Associated Calexico Teachers union members with handwritten signs use umbrellas to shade themselves from the harsh sun on June 14 as they rally in support of the first day of reopened contract talks between the union and the Calexico Unified School District. The talks have dragged on to the point now where a state mediator is being brought on in December. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

State Appoints Mediator for Calexico Schools, Teacher Talks

PERB Session Slated for December for Stalled Contract Negotiations

CALEXICO — A mediation session stemming from stalled contract negotiations between the Calexico Unified School District and Associated Teachers Calexico is anticipated for December.

The anticipated session follows the appointment of a mediator by the state Public Employment Relations Board on or about Monday, Nov. 8, the district said in a written statement Tuesday, Nov. 10.

After months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, the district on Oct. 29 requested an impasse determination from PERB, as well as the appointment of a mediator, which PERB approved on Nov. 2.

The mediator will attempt to negotiate a resolution between the district and the teachers’ union and has the authority to work with the parties for days or months.

“CUSD looks forward to working with the mediator and ACT with the hope that the impasse and negotiations will both be resolved,” the district said in its statement.

The district had previously announced on its website on Oct. 27 that it believed it had reached an impasse with Associated Teachers Calexico and was seeking PERB’s intervention.

In its Oct. 27 statement, the district accused ACT of ignoring its health benefits proposal, which it stated led to the apparent impasse.

Associated Teachers Calexico has refuted the district’s claim and has been taking part in recent district-sponsored health benefits presentations in order to inform itself and inform its union members of the potential benefit changes, ACT negotiator Juan Rodriguez previously stated.

For its part, ACT contends that the district has not been negotiating in good faith for not being willing to include the 2017-2018 school year in its salary negotiations.

The union has also made it clear from the onset of negotiations that it wanted to resolve salary proposals before considering any health benefits proposals, Rodriguez previously told this newspaper. He was not in a position to respond immediately when reached for comment on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The district’s teachers are among the lowest paid in the Valley, ACT officials have stated.

The Calexico Unified School District offices on Andrade Avenue are shown. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO

The Calexico Unified School District is offering a 15 percent salary increase over a three-year period. It is also proposing to place a $21,500 cap on the amount of monies it expends for a teacher’s annual health benefits.

The district is currently looking at different health benefits plans and is considering one whose family plan tops out at about $23,000, less than the current $26,000 family plan that the district offers and for which a union member does not have to contribute to, CUSD Board President Ciro Calderon previously said.

Calderon had also disclosed that the district is anticipating expenditures to exceed revenue by about $9 million during the 2023-24 school year.

An impasse is generally defined as the point when an employer and a union reach a stalemate in contract negotiations and further negotiations are considered by either side to be fruitless.

The district’s teachers have been operating without a contract for the past two years and have not received a cost-of-living adjustment for the past four years, ACT officials have said.

During mediation, the mediator may request that a fact-finding panel be convened to help resolve the impasse. If no agreement is reached within 30 days of the panel being convened, a report would be issued, according to information provided by ACT.

That report would be made public by the district within 10 days of its compiling. Following the report’s completion, an agreement among parties could still be negotiated, or a potential unilateral imposition. A third option could potentially be a strike, which ACT members previously had voted their support for.

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