FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Contact:          Sandra Larsen: 707-696-5118, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                        Suzanne Garcia: 530-864-2416, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Petaluma strike protests unfair labor practices

United showing by teachers highlights policies threatening quality education

Petaluma—Hundreds of teachers and other certificated employees in Petaluma City Schools, represented by the Petaluma Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1881, walked picket lines today protesting the administration's unfair labor practices and policies harmful to quality education. 

"The regressive bargaining of the administration earlier this week, in which they repudiated a class size limit that we had already agreed to, was the last straw," said Sandra Larsen, president of the PFT.  "Increasing class sizes is not the way to achieve a quality education in Petaluma schools.  And unfortunately this reversal is all too typical of the way the administration operates."

"I am participating in the strike to establish fair labor practices between the district and the union," said high school science teacher Lee Boyes, "so we can move forward next year with just and fair practices and a better environment for teaching and learning."

Picket lines were strong and no classes were held at most sites, while students were brought together in large groups, tended by hired substitutes.  Many parents walked the picket lines in support of the teachers and came to a noon rally with their children. 

Teachers were clear about why they were picketing.  "I'm sick and tired of this toxic environment created by 16 months of minimal negotiation progress, lack of respect, and all the unfair labor practices that feel intentional and mean spirited," said Elyse Vossburg, a speech therapist.

Members of Local 1881 were joined at a spirited rally in front of the district administration offices and a march to Walnut Park by parents, community supporters and members of other unions. 

The teachers returned to their school sites to close the day with picketing until 3:30.

The Petaluma Federation of Teachers has never had a walkout until today since its founding in 1969.  This strike was triggered by unfair labor practices committed by the administration. The PFT has filed ULP charges with the Public Employment Relations Board. 

Said elementary Spanish teacher Jennie Eubank, "We need to act now to put an end to the school district's continuing use of illegal bargaining practices, or we can expect this same negative experience throughout all our future negotiations."

For more information, go to pft1881.org, or contact Sandra Larsen or Suzanne Garcia at the numbers above. 

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AFT Local 1881 represents 460 teachers and other certificated employees in the Petaluma City Schools.  It is affiliated with the California Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the North Bay Labor Council.

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