Teachers strike would suspend fall sports

As time is running out in the contract impasse between the Gilroy Unified School District and its teachers, time also may be ticking for fall athletics—and many other extra-curricular activities— at Gilroy high schools. “In the event of a work stoppage, and for the safety of our campuses, the district anticipates that all other school activities, including athletics, clubs, tutoring, arts and civic events, will be suspended or canceled,” a Gilroy Unified School District representative said in a video update posted on the district’s website. “I’m just going to coach until they tell me not too,” Christopher head football coach Tim Pierleoni a union member said. Gilroy teachers are holding out hope that things will work out after Sept. 14, when union and district negotiators are scheduled to hear the results of a fact-finding report. Gilroy Teachers Association President Jonathan Bass said last month that “whether a strike occurs depends on whether an agreement can be reached prior to or during the fact-finding hearing.” If teachers and the school district cannot reach an agreement on a new union contract and all after-school activities, including high school football and other fall sports, are canceled or postponed, it would have a substantial ripple effect across multiple schools and teams in the Santa Clara Valley and Central Coast. California Interscholastic Federation Central Coast Section Commissioner Duane Morgan said this week he had not been aware of the 15-month labor dispute at Gilroy schools. The decision to not play games would not be made by the CCS, but rather by the Gilroy Unified School District. “We would try to get the games scheduled; we would prefer not to forfeit games,” Morgan said. “We don’t want to see that.” Gilroy High School (1-2) and Christopher High School (1-1) are less than one year removed from capturing their respective CIF-CCS championships. While it’s still unclear if there will be a strike, or how long it will last, forfeiting of any games would hurt either team’s chance of making it to the playoffs. A strike could affect all seven fall sports. In addition to football, that’s cross-country, girls field hockey, girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo. Gilroy’s football opponents include Aptos, Christopher, Edward Alvarez, Palma, Salinas, San Benito and Seaside. Forfeited games go as automatic losses and count as wins for scheduled opponents. Rescheduling games can be difficult, especially for football since the CIF-CCS playoffs begin one week after the regular season ends. “In the event of a work stoppage, the Gilroy Unified School District, in partnership with our two high schools Gilroy High School and Christopher High School, will work with the corresponding leagues to determine next steps for the athletic teams that are affected, and at that point, the governing league will likely determine if games will be rescheduled for a later date or forfeited,” Gilroy Unified School District Public Information Officer Melanie Corona said in an email. Gilroy Unified School District teachers, who are among the lowest-paid teachers in Santa Clara County, have demanded a 6 percent pay increase and that the GUSD pay 5 percent more in health care contributions. The GUSD has offered a 2 percent increase and no increased contribution for healthcare. Gilroy High School Athletic Director Jami Reynolds refused to comment.

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