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Hundreds of Orange County teachers strike over pay and benefits cuts

Hundreds of Orange County teachers were walking picket lines Thursday, the first day of a strike protesting pay and benefits cuts in the Capistrano Unified School District.

Schools in the 51,000-student district remained open, but most after-school activities and sports events were canceled.

Scores of substitute teachers were hurriedly brought in to preside over classrooms with lesson plans that included enrichment activities in line with state education standards. But there were reports that some students were leaving campuses because there were too few substitutes.

The Capistrano Unified Teachers Assn., which represents the district’s 2,200 teachers, called the strike after negotiations over wage and benefits cuts broke down. The district last month imposed a 10% pay cut on teachers.

Both sides have agreed to meet in a closed-door session later Thursday to try to end the deadlock.

-- Carla Rivera

Photo: Teacher Kay Serafini is comforted by sixth-grader Nikki Sadriafter after the teacher was seen crying on the picket line at Carl Hankey K-8 School in Mission Viejo. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (109)

This teacher is crying over a 10% pay cut?! I got a 100% cut and would gladly trade places with her.

I don't understand why this school district must cut pay 10%. What happened to their money? How are they wasting it? Other local district cuts are in the order of 3% I have seen, usually furlough days, and still better districts haven't cut their teachers, preferring to remove some bureaucracy.

Why this district? What mismanagement went on? Rumors of turnover and buyouts for senior administrators? The Times should look into that. The scores here are very high, what will happen next?


I'm glad these teachers are fighting back. To fix the problem, we need to raise taxes on Californians making over $250,000 a year. We need to fix Prop 13 so that wealthy corporations begin to pay their fare share of property taxes. We need to tax California oil taken out of the ground. We need to legalize and tax marijuana. We also need to get rid of the two thirds requirement necessary for California to pass budgets/taxes so that we can stop living under the tyranny of the minority.

10%. About what the district that I belong to has cut this year(2% of that next year). Hey, teachers union, from the 805 up north with the OFT. We all have to take cuts. You are no more special than any other teacher in the state. Simply put, there is no money and when 45% of the population does not pay taxes the money dries up pretty quick. So, no sympathy from a union member up north. We are all suffering. Get used to it.

Let's be real. The system is broken and the pay and benefits packets is too much for the states tax payers to keep on footing the bill for. Let's do it for the children's future. If we mortgage our future what will be left for the children of the future. Can't these peddy adults take a pay cut for the children.

Please negotiate with these teachers so they can go back to monitoring the daycare/prison system that exists with schools today.

These teachers are being a little selfish. They do not understand they are lucky to have jobs while 9% of U.S. citizens do not and would do anything for there position. Also even with the pay cuts (which all school districts are experiencing) they still get paid more than private school teachers. They should be thankful they are still employed.

As a student I am sick of the union employees feeling that they are special and how they strike to prevent lay offs. In the private sector you can't strike you just loose your job. 10% cut is nothing, try 100% cut like others that have been laid off. The teachers that care about the students would be teaching today.

I am not a teacher, but work for a California City - we took a 10% pay cut LAST YEAR! Everyone knew that there were budget problems LAST YEAR. So yes - taking a cut sucks personally, but it is better than no job. If these teachers can't figure that simple fact out themselves, maybe they should be replaced with "smarter" teachers.

These teachers need to deal with it or get another job. Yes the pay cuts are no fun but with 13% state unemployment and a down economy, many of us are dealing with pay cuts and reductions in benefits. Denying the children the right to learn and the substitutes teachers the right to work is not the answer and as long as they continue to march around the schools threatening and blocking people from entering they will get no sympathy here. I hope this forces some tough legislation and helps us rid this state of these moblike unions holding our children hostage for money.

There are no guarantees in life. Maybe these teachers can go talk to their retired neighbors who were once firefighters and police officers, and ask them about the big fat pensions of 120k-250k per year that they receive. Perhaps the teachers can address these pensions that have destroyed California, and start looking at why we are in this situation instead of focusing on your own current paycheck. Who do you think pays these people these big fat salaries to sit on their butts ?

The only people truly suffering here are the children. They are our future, and if we don't invest in them, what does that say about our future?

the people who are forcing teachers to take pay cuts should take pay cuts themselves.

LOOK AT WHY THE STATE IS BANKRUPT ! Come on teachers, you have ex-school administrators, fireman, police officers etc., making 100k-250k per year in RETIREMENT. Who do you think pays for these corrupt pensions ? The teachers should be dragging these pensions out into the light, as they have impacted your own profession by bankrupting the state. Go after the cause of this entire mess, outrageous pension obligations.


I hope your opinions are not shared by many Californians. You obviously have a lack of knowledge regarding the politics and process of how this state operates. Taxes are already high in California, among the highest in the nation. Prop 13 for a businesses is a point that could be looked at, but California has a spending problem not a revenue/tax problem. Legalize and tax marijuana? That will solve tons of issues!!

Your last point is the most ridiculous of all your misinformed viewpoints. The two thirds majority is/was the only thing saving the state. If not for that blockade the Democrats in Sacramento would have driven this state even further in the ground. There would be no accountability due to GERRYMANDERING and lack of competition!! Look it up.

Teachers there should take the pay ct and move on. Californians and Americans for that matter are losing their jobs all over the country/state and unemployment is through the roof!! I'm sure there are other issues at hand that aren't reported, but I have no respect and sympathy for any teacher union. Get back to work and do your job. Be thankful you have a job!!

I say this as a teacher in California who saw fellow teachers dismissed this year. They would gladly take a pay cut as would the thousands of laid of workers in California. The Unions in this state just don't get it and apparently neither do you.

Fire them.

Zero tolerance for those whining for more money while 1 in 8 Californians are unemployed.

I have no sympathy for these teachers they are making on average 78k a year for basically 9 months of work! Seriously we the tax payers have to say enough is enough we will go bankrupt unless we start saying No to these unions!!

Get rid of the union...the money the teachers will get back from not having to pay union dues will make up for the pay cut.

The strike is not about the contract. The contract is the pretext for the teachers' union to call a strike. The teachers’ union has been planning a strike for today for some time. In early March, Peter Espinosa, the spokesman for Capistrano Unified Children First (CUCF), reversed one or more rooms at the CUSD administration center for this Saturday, April 24th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon for a RECALL rally. The same date, the teachers’ union is holding a RECALL rally at the administration building using the same room/rooms reserved by Espinosa. If you go to the teachers’ union website you will see links to CUCF and Capo Recall 2010.If you go to the Capo Recall 2010 website you will see that it has a RECALL rally set for Saturday, April 24th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the CUSD administration center at the same room/rooms as the teachers’ union. If you search the “Why Recall” at the Capo Recall website you will see that Espinosa has written at least two articles on the recall. The teachers’ union is working hand-in-hand with CUCF and Capo Recall 2010 to take over the CUSD board. Once again the students (and parents) in CUSD are being used as pawns and stooges by the teachers’ union.

LA RIDER-I take a pay-cut everyday for the kids.
I'm so happy the teachers had the gumption to do this!
Good for you!

I wish I could go on strike to protest my salary freeze, lack of bonus, increase in health care premium contribution ... but I'm glad to have a job in the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

This morning I listened to a radio interview where a teacher was complaining that she only made $55k per year (for 9 months work) complaining.

I listened to teachers complaining about the "agenda" of the school board (school choice and vouchers).

I listened to a student who talked about seeing his mom, dad and step-mother ALL laid off at the same time ... and he wondered why these teachers were striking. Everyone is having a hard time right now.

I'm sure that there are a few thousand pink-slipped teachers from LAUSD who might be interested in their jobs, if they don't want them.

How much a year do these teachers make? What $ benefits to they receive?

Hard to take a side when you didn't give us the data.

BUT..I do think that these unions protect too many ill equiped teachers and the district should have the legal right to fire them immediately! And all these teacher aids...I never heard of these until I moved to California!

To these teachers who strike...do not use these children as your picket signs! You have to take cuts just as the rest of us..you are not immune!

Californians are already among the highest taxed in the nation. We were just hit by one of the biggest tax hikes in state history, and now some of our buffoonish politicians are shocked to find out that the DWP rate hike isn't temporary.

What exactly is America's obsession over taxing people earning more than "$250,000 a year"? My pharmacist friend earns 50 bucks per hour working nearly 60-70 hours a week, and the government already takes already 30-35% of her pay. That's money she could use to pay her monstrous student loans, rent, car payments, and support to her family.

Why should we allow the government to tax hundreds of small busineses and other productive members of society to support teachers already earning 40-50 thou a year, if not more? I taught at a private school for 11 bucks a hour, I'll take their jobs with 15% cut to their current pay. What a joke.

The OC register reported that the average OC teacher make 76,349 a year. Wake up teacher!!!! that is pretty good. The state is broke, what more do you want?

If the former superintendent of Capistrano Unified had not illegally allowed millions ($60 million!) of the district's general fund dollars to be used to build the new, but empty district administrative offices, maybe they'd not be in this position right now. He should have squirreled the monies away for a rainy day. By the way he's in jail for his actions.

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