The latest failed contract talks appear to have pushed teachers over the edge into calling for a work stoppage, which sides have been gearing up for after a tense week of impasse.
"We're going to do what we have to do," said Kathy Crummey, Hayward Education Association president. "We don't want to strike, but it doesn't look like we have much of a choice."
Still, teachers have not announced a strike and have said it would give the district advance notice in the event of one.
While union members view the talks as a setback, district officials say they were left optimistic by the effort.
"We were hoping to come to an agreement, but any time wecan come together and have additional conversations is a good thing," Superintendent Dale Vigil said. "We're taking one step at a time and I saw this as a productive step to bringing clarity to our understandings of how each party views the numbers."
Meanwhile, teachers and supporters are planning a protest rally before tonight's school board meeting, scheduled at 6:30. The demonstration will take place in front of City Hall, 777 B St.
Teachers are under a three-year contract ending in June 2008 that calls for mid-contract salary negotiations this school year.
Sides have been working on an agreement since August. The union originally demanded the near-17 percent raise equal to what two superintendents received last spring. But the district has pointed to a declining enrollment that has stifled funding as the reason it cannot meet the teachers' demands.
Hayward Unified's latest and "final" offer remains on the table. Under that contract, which was offered last week, teachers would receive a 7 percent increase with the potential to reach 8.6 percent over two years. The latter part of the deal is contingent upon district savings and how many teachers retire.
Teachers have refused the offer, which would have kicked in this May, because it was not retroactive and equates to a 1.24 percent increase for this school year. The union also didn't like the idea of teachers having to retire in order for other teachers to get a better raise.
HEA countered last week and budging from its original demands, seeks 8.08 percent increase for this school year and a 4 percent increase next school year.
The demand includes a cost-of-living adjustment and equates to 16.12 percent over two years.
Officials say no other negotiations have been scheduled for the time being.
Kristofer Noceda can be reached at (510) 293-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.