New Haven teacher strike still not settled after another day of pay talks

Teachers in Hayward and Union City met administrators at the bargaining table on Memorial Day, after failing to reach an agreement over higher wages during the holiday weekend, the New Haven Teachers Association said Monday.

“Disappointment doesn’t begin to cover how New Haven teachers feel,” the group’s president, Joe Ku’e Angeles, said in a statement.

The contract negotiations followed five days of a teacher strike, which may continue Tuesday if the camps do not settle the dispute. Cyndi Menzel, a spokeswoman for the teachers association, said the district and the union could either settle or reach a tentative agreement before school starts Tuesday, which would put an end to the strike.

Teachers in the New Haven Unified School District, which serves about 11,300 students across the two East Bay cities, can’t afford to live in the area, the teachers union said. They argue that their wages do not stretch far enough to cover the rising cost of living in the region.

Their teachers make an average salary of $96,554 for the school year, which the district said is the highest rate in Alameda County. It spends an additional $1,581 per teacher annually to offset the costs of health care, though employees pay their premiums out of pocket. On the county’s low end, Oakland teachers earn about $63,000 for the school year.

In a statement, Angeles faulted the district for overpaying administrators and hiring more managers over the past six years, citing the district’s financials. “Parents come to Union City, to our New Haven schools because of great teachers,” he said, “not because of overpaid-managers.”

The school district is offering a one-time 3% raise for the current school year and a 1% ongoing raise beginning in the fall. The teachers union wants a 10% raise over two years.

“Management would like nothing more than to bring this strike to an end,” said a May 21 statement on the New Haven Unified School District’s website. Administrators did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The district’s 12 schools stayed open during last week’s strike. Union members include 585 teachers, school counselors, psychologists, nurses and speech therapists.

A GoFundMe campaign, created by members of the New Haven Teachers Association to assist members who are facing financial hardship by losing their wages to strike, raised $6,200 as of Monday afternoon. Michael Gardner, union treasurer, said the group has earmarked a similar amount from the general fund to support teachers in need.

“Teachers deserve to earn a living wage,” donor Karen Rosa wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“As a teacher in the East Bay, I appreciate your standing up and accepting nothing less (than) a fair contract,” Jim Vaughan wrote.

Melia Russell is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @meliarobin

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