LBUSD holds firm teachers must work from classrooms; union mentions strike

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Teacher union officials, determined to control coronavirus protocols in their districts, fall back on the threat of a strike.  No one is surprised. Mike Buardabasio has the story in Long  Beach Post.

Tensions between the Long Beach Unified School District and its teachers union continued to rise on Wednesday evening after the district reaffirmed its stance that teachers must come to the classroom to teach virtually this fall.

Teachers have protested the decision, saying they want the option to choose whether they teach from the classroom or home, citing health and safety concerns around leaving their houses.

The Teachers Association of Long Beach, the union representing LBUSD teachers, has made it clear that this will be a sticking point. Teachers were upset enough with the decision that they could threaten to strike, according to the union.

There has never been a strike in TALB history, but the union’s executive director, Chris Callopy, said that the impasse could trigger a mediation process that may end in a strike.

Callopy said he doesn’t think the association will “jump through all the hurdles” to reach a strike in the next three weeks before school starts on Sept. 1, “but unprecedented times can lead to unprecedented actions.”

Work location is not bargained for in the union’s contract, and is at the discretion of the district. TALB leadership has acknowledged this, but teachers’ fears regarding the COVID-19 pandemic override that, in their eyes.

The issue has become a flashpoint of online debate, with a large contingent of parents supporting teachers’ request to choose their work location. Honks from a caravan protest of teachers and parents were audible during the Board meeting. Nine in-person speakers and 50 emails addressed the issue, with most in support of teachers choosing their location.