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Teachers contempt plate strike Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Feb 05 2011 12:00 PM

Bargaining teams from the National City Elementary Teachers Association and the National School District met Thursday morning in a final effort to settle a year-long contract dispute and avoid a teacher's strike Friday.

The meeting began at 8:30 a.m. at the district offices and were on-going as of noon.

National City school teachers said the last thing 354 members want is a strike, but the district's "constant stalling tactics and bad faith bargaining" leave them no choice, unless an agreement is made.

The executive board of the association voted to authorize an unfair labor practice strike in December to pressure the district to negotiate.

Reportedly hundreds of parents and community members marched outside in support of a fair contract settlement.

"The last time we sat down with them (the district) we said we were willing to sit down and work until the wee hours of the morning," Cartwright said.

Contract talks began last February when the district declared an impasse in March after four bargaining sessions, voting to impose six furlough days, larger class sizes, a calendar aligned with Sweetwater Union High School District's and new transfer and reassignment procedures. Teachers have worked without a contract since last December.

"Every time we think they're serious about proposals, nothing happens," Cartwright said Wednesday. "The district has continually issued misleading statements to our members, district parents and the public."

The district has been preparing for a strike the last several weeks, training substitute teachers who would receive $250 a day, more than double the standard rate.

Students attending school during the strike get incentives, including the chance to win one of 30 $50 Apple iPod Shuffles purchased by the administrator's association.

If the union strikes, the school district would cut five student instruction days, including an additional prep day for teachers. The district also included the right to increase class size.

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