Gilroy Teachers demonstrate outside of a factfinding meeting on Sept. 14
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The Gilroy Unified School District late Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 18, announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the Gilroy Teachers Association on a new labor contract for certificated employees.

The agreement covers three years, and provides a 2 percent increase per year, from July 2017.

“With a term ending June 30, 2020, it provides for a 2 percent ongoing increase to certificated salary schedules effective July 1, 2017; a 2 percent ongoing increase to certificated salary schedules effective Jan. 1, 2018; as well as a 2 percent ongoing increase to certificated salary schedules effective Jan. 1, 2019,” the district said.

Additionally, the district agreed to an increase in contributions to health benefits, an increase to the hourly rate and an increase to extra duty stipends.

Last Friday, Sept. 14, both sides attended an all-day hearing before a three-person panel that included an impartial state fact finder, presented arguments and data supporting their positions and then bargained late into the evening.  The two sides held another bargaining session on Tuesday where the tentative agreement was reached.

“Today’s tentative agreement demonstrates the District’s deep and ongoing commitment to increases in certificated salaries and compensation,” said Board President Linda Piceno.

“We are pleased that both sides engaged in good-faith bargaining through the state’s impasse resolution process,” said Supt. Deborah A. Flores. “We were able reach to common ground in a spirit of compromise and collaboration.”

In order to implement this agreement, the Gilroy Unified School District said it will need to cut $5 million from its budget over a three-year period.  The District has already made nearly $1 million in budget reductions and will now identify an additional $4 million in potential reductions over the next two years, which will be discussed at upcoming board meetings.

The Gilroy Teachers Association will submit the tentative agreement for a ratification vote of its membership within the next two weeks. The Board of Education is slated to ratify the new contract at an October Board Meeting.

GTA President Jonathan Bass said earlier this week: “Both parties remain hopeful that a settlement can be reached. GTA is committed to negotiating a fair contract for its members.”

The teachers union’s final demand had been a 6 percent pay raise and 5 percent increase in district health care contributions, while the district’s last publicized offer was a 2 percent pay hike and no additional health care contributions. Gilroy teachers, the lowest paid among Santa Clara County school districts, have been working without a contract since the last three-year contract expired in June 2017.

Because a tentative agreement was reached before the fact-finding report was finalized, the report will not be released, district officials said this week.

The teachers had authorized a strike if no contract agreement was reached.

In the weeks leading up to the fact-finding session, district staff has taken precautionary measures in case of a work stoppage. The district has been recruiting substitute teachers with an enticing $500 daily rate (nearly four times the normal substitute pay). They also spent $4,400 for the production of an informational strike video for parents.

Teachers, parents and students have picketed outside recent school board meetings and also pleaded with school trustees during meetings to help end the impasse and offer a fair contract.

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