Teachers rally outside Sweetwater Union High School District offices: Meeting canceled again

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - There is more frustration for teachers in the Sweetwater Union High School District. Late Tuesday, their second planned meeting to avoid a strike was abruptly canceled.

“These are the people we're negotiating with, these are our employers,” said union president Roberto Rodriguez. “It's a sad, sad day.”

Dozens of teachers rallied around their union president. They were hoping to speak at Tuesday's board meeting but once again, that did not happen.

“It's frustrating,” said teacher Gilberto Benitez. “We're just trying to come to the table, talk to them and square this away."

Spring Break is no vacation for the 1,800 teachers worried about a walkout. The union and the district made progress during talks on Friday, but they are still far from reaching an agreement.

“There's a lot of uncertainty … teachers not knowing if we're going to actually have to go on strike, if there will be resolution and it filters down to our students,” said Benitez.

Teacher Daniel Crook said, “No teacher wants to walk off the job and leave the students without instruction, but everything we've seen from the district … they've showed very little willingness to compromise.”

The teachers want a 3 percent raise and more health care coverage. The district says if there is a strike, subs will teach the 41,000 students. The union president says that is unlikely.

“There’s not enough subs in this district when we have a big staff training to go to,” said Rodriguez.  “There's usually trouble having enough substitutes for those circumstances.”

No new talks are scheduled. The union is hoping to schedule something with the mediator next week.

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