Mt. Eden High School special education teacher Paul Skender (left) joins other teachers at a protest in front of Hayward Unified School District offices on
Mt. Eden High School special education teacher Paul Skender (left) joins other teachers at a protest in front of Hayward Unified School District offices on Tuesday, April 10, 2007, in Hayward, Calif. (Jane Tyska/The Daily Review)
HAYWARD — Jumping into the fray of a high-stakes, high-drama labor dispute, City Councilwoman Doris Rodriquez proposed Tuesday that the council vote on a resolution urging a "harmonious" and equitable end to the squabble.

But not long after striking Hayward teachers union members got wind of the symbolic move, the peace message was temporarily lost in what Rodriquez said was an organizational mix-up.

Rodriquez, who is the mother of the teachers union's vice president, said she tried to craft an official statement that is supportive of teachers without taking sides against the Hayward Unified School District administration, which is autonomous from city government.

"We're doing a fluff resolution. It is quite fluffy. It's just to the point where we're supportive of labor peace," Rodriquez said Tuesday afternoon. "I'm very pro-union and I think that they deserve a raise, but I'm not going to say that in the resolution."

The Hayward Education Association, a local union associated with the California Teachers Association, jumped on the news and issued a Tuesday morning press release celebrating the pending resolution.

"In a potentially major development, the Hayward City Council tonight will vote on a resolution of support for striking Hayward Unified School District teachers," the union wrote. The statement was sent out Tuesday to news organizations throughout the Bay Area.

But Rodriquez said that statement was wrong on two counts.


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Her proposed resolution, which is being co-sponsored by City Councilman Bill Quirk, takes no sides in the strike, the two council members said.

"The biggest problem isn't the strike, per se," Quirk said. "It's the bitterness involving the incidents leading up to it."

After weeks of failed negotiations on teacher compensation, teachers began striking April 5 and have continued protesting, though schools are on spring break this week.

Also incorrect in the HEA release was the statement that the council would be voting on the resolution Tuesday night. Doing so very likely would violate state open-meeting laws, because theresolution was not placed on the agenda and the public had not been notified.

"They screwed it up royally," Rodriquez said of the statement. "That's an error on the part of somebody at CTA."

HEA President Kathleen Crummey said Tuesday afternoon that it was her understanding, after conversations with Rodriquez, that the council would be voting that night. That information continued to be passed on to striking teachers and their supporters throughout the afternoon.

CTA spokesman Mike Myslinski concurred, adding that he didn't think voting on a resolution that is not agendized would be illegal.

"It's not like a resolution where you raise the garbage rates. You don't need an introduction on it," Myslinski said.

Rodriquez said the plan is to vote on the resolution April 17. If the dispute is still going on at that time, that day will mark the fourth day of striking while school is in session.

Hayward City Attorney Michael O'Toole said the only way the council might have been able to get the resolution on the agenda Tuesday is if it was deemed an emergency.

"Labor actions are considered emergencies," O'Toole said, but not when they involve employees who work for a different agency.

Rodriquez said it was always her intention to announce her introduction of the resolution on Tuesday and have the entire council vote on April 17 after appropriate public notice.

She said she talked about the idea beforehand with Quirk, Mayor Mike Sweeney and her daughter, Mercedes Faraj, who is the HEA's vice president and bargaining chair.

Rodriquez said that after consulting her two sons, both municipal attorneys, she did not consider the familial connection to be a conflict of interest.

"Somebody might read it that way, I don't know," Rodriquez said. She said she would check with the city attorney before voting next week.

Matt O'Brien can be reached at (510) 293-2473 or mattobrien@dailyreviewonline.com.