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Teachers union doesn't influence entire staff in looming strike

Teacher's Union doesn't influence entire staff in looming strike
Posted at 11:10 PM, Aug 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 08:59:59-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Adam Berger, a teacher at Eldorado High School, stood alone outside of Clark County School District headquarters Friday holding a sign in his hand warning that teachers like himself would strike if union demands weren't met.

The district was meeting inside headquarters with union leadership to negotiate terms that would avoid the strike.

"I wanted to stand in solidarity with my union brothers and sisters," Berger said.

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His one man demonstration came after roughly 1,200 teachers rallied at a Board of School Trustees meeting demanding that the trustees refuse to consider the district's contract proposal.

John Vellardiita, Clark County Education Association executive director, said the number of teacher ready to demonstrate has been growing.

"I believe what we're sitting on is a tinder box," Vellardita said.

Despite the rising tensions, the union hasn't held sway over the entire district.

CCSD said there are more than 18,000 teachers in the district, and CCEA said they have 11,000 members.

The vote that authorized the union to call a strike in may had roughly 5,000 responses, and 78% of those responses were "yes" votes to call a strike if necessary.

That number represents around 21% of the teachers in the district.

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Berger believed, no matter how many teachers walked if the Sept. 10 deadline came with no deal between negotiators, it would be enough to send a message to the district.

"Between three and five thousand, five and nine thousand, wouldn't make a difference," Berger said.

CCSD has promised to keep schools open and began an aggressive recruitment campaign for substitutes and retired teachers to fill potential vacancies.

Vellardita said, with subs filing 750 teacher vacancies before the strike, it's unlikely that the recruitment campaign would be effective.

"They'll never find enough subs to fill the vacancies they have right now," Vellardita said, "let alone fill any classrooms that might be empty as a result of a strike."

Both CCEA and CCSD have signaled they were committed to continued negotiations.