Union’s message falls flat with PV students

Pleasant Valley High School students are used to counting on their teachers to “voluntarily” help them with computer competency requirements, clubs and other activities. But in the Chico Unified Teachers Association’s most recent efforts to get the school district to agree to a new contract, many PV teachers decided to drop that volunteer work for now, and students feel they’re getting lost in the struggle.

“We’ve been pulled into [the union negotiations dispute] by the teachers’ actions,” said Michael Garcia, a senior at Pleasant Valley High School who just returned to take another term as student representative to the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees.

The CUSD and its teachers’ union are, like they were two years ago, stuck in mediation after negotiations over salary and other work issues dead-ended.

Garcia said students feel “displeasure with both parties.”

“It would seem we would have learned from the past mistakes,” he added from the public-comment podium at March 22nd’s board meeting. “Come back together before this goes any further.”

Dan Sours, president of the CUTA, said in an interview that the union’s crisis committee directed teachers at each site to take whatever action allowed that they felt appropriate to get out the message that “We want a settlement.”

To the majority of PV teachers, he said, that meant “stopping all volunteer work.”

Sours said the teachers’ action is not as severe as if they were “working to rule"—coming to school only 15 minutes before it starts and leaving 15 minutes after, as required in their contract, and doing nothing else.

The next mediation session is set for April 2. Sours said the union hopes the district sends someone with more decision-making power—like Superintendent Scott Brown or a school board member—to the table.