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Calexico classified employees reach tentative contract agreement

April 05, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Classified employees of this city's school district reached a tentative contract agreement during a negotiation session Wednesday as California School Employee Association members conducted a peaceful demonstration in front of the district office.

"We agreed on a 10.5 percent increase across the board," said Cesar Rodriguez, chief negotiator for the classified employees.

Rodriguez said the 10.5 increase could be broken down to an 8.51 percent increase in salaries and a 1.99 percent increase in health and welfare benefits.

Members of the Calexico Unified School District's negotiating team could not be reached for comment.

Vincent Ayala, assistant chief negotiator, said other key issues in the negotiations were language changes in the contract, changes to the charity fund and stipends for various classified employees.

"I've been here for 15 years and this is the first time I've seen that we've received a double-digit raise," Ayala said, adding he anticipates the membership ratifying the agreement.

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"I believe they will back us up on this," Ayala said, "It's the best raise we've had in many years."

Rodriguez said unity between the teachers' association and the classified association was beneficial to the negotiations.

The Calexico Teachers' Association voted to delay the ratification of its contract until classified employees reached an agreement as well.

Mike Lara, president of the Calexico Teachers' Association, said the teachers were trying to show support for the classified employees.

Teachers and classified employees conducted several demonstrations and rallies throughout the negotiation process.

"It unified the chapter, galvanized it together," Rodriguez said. "The longer negotiations took, we became stronger and more united in a common cause."

Ayala said, "It was a tough battle to get what we wanted."

He added the classified employees did not receive all they were hoping for.

The tentative agreement will be posted for five days at each work site until the membership votes on the contract Thursday.

"We are hopeful the membership will vote for it," said Rodriguez.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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