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Glendale Unified, teachers union still at odds over furlough days

July 31, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

Unable to reach an agreement last month to eliminate or defer five teacher furlough days scheduled for the 2012-13 school year, Glendale Unified and union officials are now negotiating to schedule them into the district calendar.

But even agreeing on the dates for the furlough days is presenting a roadblock, with the district’s negotiating team looking to tag them onto weekends or existing school breaks and the teachers’ union asking that they fall midweek.

“We would prefer to have a couple of days in the middle of the week ... because we want to bring attention to the fact that these are furlough days, that the students should be in school,” the Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson said Monday. “It is not a three-day weekend; it is not a regular holiday.”

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The two sides broke from the negotiating table Friday without a resolution and are scheduled to pick up again on Thursday.

“The district believes the furlough days should align with weekends, holidays and/or the end of the school year,” Eva Lueck, chief business officer for the district, said in an email Monday. “The district is concerned that mid-week furlough days would interrupt the continuity of the instructional program.”

The five furlough days represent $2.3 million in savings for Glendale Unified, and a 2.5% pay cut for teachers.

The furlough days date back to an August 2010 agreement, although district and union leaders have managed to eliminate or defer all dates scheduled up until now. In an 11th-hour deal in January, they announced two furloughs days booked for the spring were eliminated while a third was deferred to 2012-13, bringing the total for the coming year to five.

The district negotiating team has stated that it wants to defer all five remaining days by one year.

Carlson said that the union would be willing to agree to the deferment, if the district would promise to tie them to the success of the November tax initiative. If the initiative passes, teachers want the days wiped off the calendar entirely, she said.

“We still feel they can afford not to have them, so we feel we should not be having them,” Carlson said.

District officials said they need to keep them on the books.

“The furlough days were negotiated and agreed upon to help offset a structural budget deficit that has occurred as a result of multiple years of reduced state funding,” Lueck said. “If the November election is not successful, there will be additional reduction needed in all budget areas."

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Twitter: @megankoneil

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