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Talks between teachers union, Glendale Unified break down on furlough days

June 11, 2012

Five unpaid furlough days remain on the books for the 2012-13 school year at Glendale Unified after a proposed deal to defer them last week fell through.

During negotiations Thursday, Glendale Teachers Assn. leaders agreed to defer the furlough days until 2013-14 and then readdress them after the November election, when voters will decide on state tax initiatives that could have a major impact on state education funding.

But the deal broke down over a disagreement on how to approach negotiations for changes to health benefits.

The union had asked to freeze those negotiations until the pending furlough days were further delayed or rescinded altogether — something district officials said they were unwilling to commit to.

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Union President Tami Carlson said the looming fight over a hard cap on the district’s contributions to employee health coverage is a major concern for teachers. Furlough days and limits to health insurance contributions would translate into a big pay cut for teachers, she said.

“The district made it clear they were going to come after the health benefits cap for 2013-14,” Carlson said. “To put us into a position to have to negotiation the health benefits cap when we already have five furlough days on the books, we felt, was unfair.”

The Glendale Unified negotiating team, lead by Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources David Samuelson, rejected the proposal to defer the furlough days in exchange for halting talks on health benefits.

“The district cannot agree to have its hands tied on all other issues,” he said.

The district has never wavered in its attempt to defer furlough days in the hope that they wouldn’t be needed, Samuelson said, but the continuing state budget uncertainty “underlines the need to keep the agreed furlough days as an option to avoid layoffs.”

If the five furlough days remain on the books, it would save Glendale Unified $2.3 million, and represent a 2.5% pay cut for teachers.

The two sides did exchange dates for the five furlough days, with the first possibly falling on Oct. 29.

-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News

Twitter: @megankoneil

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