New Haven Unified Teacher Contract Talks Set for Sunday, Both Sides Trade Barbs

Teachers and administrators from the New Haven Unified School District are tentatively set to resume contract talks at 10 a.m. Sunday, a day after the two sides traded barbs about who should, and shouldn't, be part of the negotiations.

The district' teachers have been on strike for the past two weeks.

In a statement Saturday, school district Superintendent, Dr. Arlando Smith said he would leave the bargaining if New Haven Teachers Association president Joe Ku'e Angeles does the same.

"For the sake of the process, and the teachers, students and district that I love and care about, I will remove myself from the negotiating process if Mr. Angeles agrees to do the same and refrain from making any more incendiary comments, which seems to be his only contribution to the process thus far," Smith said in the Saturday statement.

In a statement from the teachers' union Saturday, Ku'e Angeles accused Smith of refusing to meet with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who took part in the negotiations Friday.

"Arlando Smith told our state Superintendent of Public Instruction that it was not his place to be involved, and that he didn't want him here. I can't believe he disrespected the superintendent of public instruction," Ku'e Angeles said in the teachers' union statement Saturday. "This situation, and Arlando's behavior, is getting more and more outrageous."

Ku'e Angeles could not be reached for comment Saturday to say whether he plans to attend Sunday's bargaining session. Superintendent Smith could not be reached for comment as to whether he actively boycotted a prospective bargaining session Saturday, or plans to bow out Sunday.

On Twitter Saturday, Thurmond said, "My team will remain involved & work with all parties for as long as it takes to get this resolved."

California Teachers Association spokeswoman Cynthia Menzel said Saturday night that she plans to be at Sunday morning's scheduled bargaining session in Hayward, regardless of Saturday's public bickering and bargaining session that didn't happen.

"It's been one of the most confusing, unusual things I've ever seen in my life, and I've seen a lot" of these negotiations, she said. "I've never seen bargaining sessions like this."

Both sides have moved from their original positions. Teachers originally asked for a 10% pay hike over two years, but are now proposing cost-of-living adjustments of 3.7% for this year and 3.26% for next year, according to New Haven Teachers Association officials.

The district originally countered with a 1%raise for 2019-2020 and a one-time 3% payment, along with an additional raise of up to 1% if it was able to add up to $2 million to its budget. The district is now offering a 3% increase for this year and a 2% pay hike in January 2020, according to district officials.

District officials say they cannot afford to meet the teachers' demands without needing to make significant cuts elsewhere in the district.

The New Haven Unified School district employs approximately 585 teachers at its 11 schools in Union City and Hayward. Approximately 11,000 students attend those schools.

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