After two months without progress, Orange County Schools Educators Association (OCSEA) held its second rally on Tuesday afternoon, this time outside the mediation session where Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) officials huddled with OCSEA negotiators and a state mediator- all attempting to bring a settlement after stalled negotiations.
This is the second rally planned by the OCSEA Organizing Team this school year as they continue to take their message to the streets in the city of Orange. “We need to honor the difficult work of county educators by ensuring they have a contract that brings fair pay and helps attract the next generation of educators to serve in our schools”, OCSEA President Marlene Simmons explained.
For association leaders, OCDE’s current offer is still unacceptable; it does not consider the challenging student demographics and ongoing cost-of-living issues that set Orange County educators apart from their statewide peers. Inadequate pay and excessive health benefit costs hinder the recruitment of the next generation of educators for these schools and facilities.
Educators from multiple sites came and marched up Rampart Street to the corner of Chapman Avenue where they were greeted by drivers honking horns as OCSEA members and their families waved signs and blew whistles in response to their support.
OCSEA continues a student-centered negotiations approach to negotiations. They want changes that will ensure recruitment and retention of that next generation of teachers for the county’s special schools and programs. Without competitive pay, OCDE will continue to struggle to fill openings in a highly-competitive educator labor market.
OCSEA members lined the parking lot and marched in front of the offices while the mediation session was taking place. Their message; saddling higher healthcare costs onto county educators will not stand. Members are still reeling from the unilaterally-imposed 146% out of pocket medical increase costing unit members nearly $600 a month.
OCSEA organizers are hopeful of a positive outcome during mediation but have planned a long term strategy of further concerted actions in the event the effort fails.