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Teachers hold the line in Hayward walkout

April 27, 2007 | Page 14

JOHN GREEN reports on a teachers' strike inspiring local support in a California town.

HAYWARD, Calif.--The school district that sought an injunction against 1,300 striking teachers here pulled back after the teachers' union rebutted the district's filing at the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

The Hayward Unified School District filed for an injunction with the PERB, the first step in seeking a court order to end the strike that began April 5. The district retreated, but threatened to press for the injunction if the union didn't back down from its demands.

The 1,300 teachers, represented by the Hayward Educators' Association (HEA), have launched a highly visible, militant strike. Given their high health care costs, Hayward teachers are among the lowest compensated in the expensive Bay Area. They're asking for the same 16.84 percent raise granted top district administrators this year.

Spirited "unity rallies" have brought together hundreds of teachers, parents and students in daily shows of force throughout Hayward. A parent solidarity group, Families in Action, led 1,500 parents and students in a march on the district office to gain a hearing with Superintendent Dale Vigil.

What you can do

Strike supporters are urgently asked to call and e-mail the Hayward Unified School District Board of Education: Grant Peterson, president, 510-886-4263, [email protected]; Myrna Truehill, vice president, 510-887-0855, [email protected]; Sarah Gonzales, clerk, 510-427-2043, [email protected]; Paul Frumkin III, member, 510-886-8910, [email protected]; Jeff Cook, member, 510-732-0671, [email protected].


Teachers at school sites have stood their ground against attempts to move scabs through picket lines. Less than 3 percent of regular teachers have crossed the lines. Picket lines also appeared outside the homes of school board members at 6:30 a.m.

At Bowman Elementary, teachers established "strike schools" for younger children, who discussed Rosa Parks and wrote letters to the superintendent supporting their teachers.

The district didn't count on such militancy and perseverance. On the seventh day of the strike, Vigil declared an educational state of emergency and publicly admitted that he had cobbled together just 180 of the promised 1,000 scabs to beat the union.

"The district has been wasting time at the bargaining table for weeks by repackaging the same poor salary offer," said Kathleen Crummey, HEA president. "Now they want to go to court with more lies about our intentions and conduct. In the court of public opinion, this district has already been found guilty of gross disrespect of teachers, parents and students."

Teachers throughout the state face similar contract fights. A union victory in Hayward will lead other school districts to think twice before attacking living standards and quality of education. Throughout the Bay Area, teacher unions have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to support a small but important strike fund for needy teachers.

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