The Dublin Teachers Association (DTA) has voted overwhelmingly to authorize its leadership to conduct a districtwide strike, unless negotiations with management are concluded successfully.

Three days of membership voting among the 650 certificated personnel concluded last Friday with a 98% yes vote. This gives leadership a strike tool if negotiations break down.

The union leadership and management met with a mediator at district headquarters on March 19, a date that already had been chosen for the second mediation session. The first meeting took place on March 8.

If mediation fails, then the mediator launches a fact-finding investigation, which DTA co-president Robbie Kreitz said could last into April.

Issues of concern for the union are salary increases, health care benefits, and outdated textbooks.

Management is offering a 2% ongoing pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2018, as well as a 3% one-time recompense.

The union is asking for 3% ongoing, effective July 1, 2018, and a 3.5% one-time payment.

The union also has been critical of what it regards as the slow pace the district has taken upgrading textbooks and software to keep up with the state’s classroom materials mandates.

The union members receive dental insurance coverage, but like many other districts, management does not pay for medical plans. Trustees have focused on boosting the salary scale, so that members can pay for their medical plans from that source.

When Pleasanton schools shifted to that approach more than a decade ago, the district explained that some teachers used their spouse’s medical coverage for the family, and preferred to make their own choices by getting dollars, instead of coverage.

Superintendent Leslie Boozer was unavailable for comment before The Independent’s deadline. However, she has been posting management updates on the district website on Fridays.

Boozer’s most recent message on March 15 commented on the strike authorization vote before it was tallied. The superintendent said that taking the strike authorization vote does not “change or speed up the timeline or steps that we’ve shared in the past. It also doesn’t change our confidence in our ability to collaborate with DTA and reach an equitable solution that fairly compensates our dedicated teachers, while ensuring the ongoing ability of the school district to invest in other critical educational resources.”

Boozer acknowledged that “textbooks in all grades need to be updated, if we are to meet state-mandated educational content standards as a district.”

The district is scheduled to buy 6000 necessary social studies textbooks in grades 6-12 to meet state standards. It will cost DUSD $1.3 million. More will have to be spent to train teachers to use books and software in the most effective ways, Boozer noted.

A single textbook can cost from $160 to $400, because of software licenses and other related instructional materials, Boozer explained.

She agreed that Dublin needs to keep up with the state textbook adoption cycle, but stated that the continued annual growth of 600 to 1000 students in the district adds to costs.

The union challenged that thought at a recent school board meeting by noting that new growth also brings in more state money for pupils, as shown in the district’s budget projections.

The Oakland school district recently ended a 7-day strike, which cost it nearly $1 million a day in state revenue because of the loss of Average Daily Attendance money.

Teachers in San Ramon Valley Unified School District authorized a strike, but a walkout was averted when the two sides reached a tentative agreement earlier this month.