By Jim Steinberg Staff Writer
Posted: 05/27/2011 05:59:20 PM PDT

RIALTO – Some 60 members of the Rialto Unified School District’s classified employee union carried signs and circulated through the school board meeting room Thursday night in protest of proposed work cuts – amounting to a month or more for many.

But a board vote which would have enacted those measures was tabled after an impassioned plea by District Superintendent Harold L. Cebrun to get the union to the bargaining table.

“It turned what could have been a lose-lose vote into a win-win situation,” said Joe Martinez, school board member.

During public comment, library media tech Isabel Quintero Flores said another month’s reduction in her work year would be a significant hardship in a household where her husband lost his job and is going to college to make their future better.

In a previous round of cutbacks, she already had lost a month of work.

Initially, California School Employees Association Rialto Local 203 President Raquel Torres did not want to negotiate, saying that the school district missed a window when the contract could have been reopened.

But Cebrun asked the union to “forget all the rules” and come to the negotiating table. In return, the item which would have meant a $400,000 savings to the district would be pulled.

Torres agreed.

“This was a monumental decision,” Torres said Friday. “The action indicates the board and district value and appreciate” the district’s 1,500 classified employees, who perform tasks ranging from clerical and secretarial, to kitchen and maintenance.

Torres said Cebrun “was moved by the passion of our employees.”

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